“This monster gobbles up egos. Powerful, above the law, an ogre who’s been in charge now for years (and years and years) who delights in sealing men’s’ fate […]” Who could he be referring to? Julio Grondona? Alex Ferguson? John Delaney? No, Ignacio Fusco, in a rather unsympathetic interview – with Nestor ‘Pipo’ Gorosito, current Xerez manager- in today’s Olé is speaking of José María Aguilar (whose Wikipedia page in Spanish, incidentally, refers to him as a “bloodsucker” and a “delinquent”).
Notwithstanding the championship won under Simeone, River have had a pretty tough time over the last few years, and just like every other Argentine team have gone through a good few managers. Most of these lads stay on the merry-go-round of Argieball and can easily manage four different teams in about three years. Pipo Gorosito was one of them, managing six different teams in seven years as a coach. Like the rest he made almost no difference to the club or the team’s performance, and he was duly axed by the ogre Aguilar, who has himself since been replaced by straight-laced hard man Danny Passarella. Unlike the rest, however, once he had left River Plate he got a job managing Xerez in La Liga.
It’s an interesting interview, I think, not because it’s yet another Argentine crowing about what a shithole his homeland is amidst the comforts of his/her apartment in Madrid or Barcelona, but because while he genuinely seems disgusted by some of the attitudes he encountered, he doesn’t use it as a stick to beat Argentina with nor does he compare it unfavourably with the ‘primer mundo’. It’s also good as the interviewer is such a badgering prick – at the start at least – and is completely disrespectful, thus proving one of Gorosito’s points.
Here it is:
Pipo: Now there’s nothing else for me to do except learn from my mistakes, that’s all. There are a few things that I wouldn’t say yes to if I had another chance, as regards the conditions I was offered. But there you go. What’s the point in dwelling on the past? It won’t do me any good to ‘clear my name’ or blame others.
Fusco: So then your ego got the better of you. You accepted the job and River got the better of you, too.
P: I told you just now: what happened, happened. I can’t relive the past.
F: No-one can.
P: I’m too far away now to pass judgment. I suppose Passarella will have taken stock and will try to bring the club in the right direction. And there you have it: I don’t want to talk any more about River.
F: The idea, Pipo, is that you tell us about your experience as the manager of River Plate. We already know what the story with River is.
P: No, I don’t want to say anything. I’ll repeat what I told you at the start. There are some things I wouldn’t accept if they were to be put to me again. Now the only thing I can do with that is learn from it.
F: From a disastrous River Plate to Spain. Even you must have been surprised.
P: Yeah, well it’s not always just a question of results.
F: What is it then?
P: Federico Souza is an Argentine businessman who bought Xerez. He got Federico Lussenhoff to be his sporting director. I had played with him in San Lorenzo and he recommended me on the strength of my references. Xerez had only eight points from 18 games when we took over, and the idea is to go at it for 18 months. So if we get relegated we come back up.
F: In Spain only Barca and Real are fighting for the championship. Are you surprised that no big teams [River, Boca, Racing, Independiente, San Lorenzo] are in the running here?
P: The problem is who the small clubs selling their players to. Before, 90% of the players that went to Europe had played for one of the big teams before they were sold on, but today that’s not the case. Think about it: nowadays Boca couldn’t buy Palacio; Banfield would sell him straight to a European team.
F: Why is the standard of football getting worse and worse?
P: In Argentina the football is good, but the pressure is disproportionate, it’s madness. Most people see in their team more than just eleven players: they see social problems. Where education is lacking, fanaticism abounds; that’s where we’re at. Football in Argentina is insane. And that’s without even mentioning the lack of respect. How the hell can someone who doesn’t have a clue as to how to even kick a football have the balls to say “This is what you have to do”? Besides, in football you tell someone to do something obvious, blindingly obvious, and they don’t do it. What does it mean to know about football? There are managers who get results and yet I know that many players laugh in their faces. That’s how it is.
F: The manager is not as important as people think he is?
P: The people in charge know how far a team can go, but since the first head to roll is always the manager’s… The manager can only influence about 20% of a match, but in Argentina bloodshed brings in the big bucks. When a manager takes over at River or Boca there are 50 journalists there. When he leaves, 150. It’s incredible. Try this: go down to Florida [the Grafton Street of Buenos Aires, let’s say] and put two TVs on the street. On one show the opening of a school in Jujuy, and on the other a massacre in Floresta: 15 deaths. Which TV do the people look at?
F: The second one.
P: Well there you go, that’s what people are like.
F: You’ve managed River and San Lorenzo, two dreams of yours, and you left both under a cloud. Would you go back?
P: If the economic reality were to change, yes. I’ll definitely go back to San Lorenzo, without a doubt.
F: And River?
P: I told you: what happened, happened. I’ve learned my lesson.
Poor Pipo, he’s a bit of a loser really but I think he’s right. Incidentally, when I was working as a barman a few years ago here in Mar del Plata, I actually served him a drink one night. While I had regarded his barnet with some curiosity, I did not know who he was. As I was preparing the drink a colleague informed me of his celebrity status and the fact that he had won the Copa América in 1993, Argentina’s last. Do I charge him, I asked? My colleague look at Pipo’s hair and answered sharply: Yes.