Thursday, March 24, 2011

Should He Stay Or Should He Go?

So, Roberto Sensini turns in his resignation... Guillermo Lorente refuses to accept it. Where does that leave Newell's Old Boys? Still fighting to find any kind of form six games into their worst start to a championship sense Nery Pumpido was coach. If we include the last half of the Apertura the length of the run of poorly played matches could well match the, what was it, 18 games with out a win the team had with Pumpido in charge?

The difference is, of course, that Sensini has had some success over the past two seasons. But that was with a team that, due to fortune smiling on them, had quality players who could have won matches under all but the worst coach imaginable. That luck seems to have run out when the last two true 9s left the club. Last season was a season of riches, with both Joaquín Boghossian and Cristian Nuñez able to provide more than adequate penalty area presence at the attacking end.

When both left over the winter break, team management scrambled to bring in a single quality player to fill the role, and fail miserably. Thanks to the play of Mauro Fórmica and Mauricio Sperdutti in attack the first half of the Apertura went well, along with a very successful run deep into the Copa Sudamericana.

By the second half of the Apertura, however, the other teams in the league had learned that all they had to do to shut down La Lepra was keep close marks on both El Gato and El Gordo. During the summer break Fórmica was sold to Blackburn Rovers, leaving the team without a playmaker. Claudio Bieler was brought in as a new 9, but has been a bit shy of convincing in that role. Nestor Camacho was brought into the team as a late signing to take up the role of playmker, but is still shy of full match fitness, and has a ways to go before he is truly comfortable playing with his new teammates, something that should have been done during the pre-season.

So far, in my opinion, Juan Manuel Cobelli has been the forward who has shown the the qualities of a true 9. True, he has only come on as a second half substitute, but that is only because the Senseless One has failed to give him a chance as a starter.

But, while the offense may not be functioning as well as we Lepra fans may like, it has produced more goals in the first six games of the Clausura than it did during the last six of the Apertura. The biggest problem now has been the defense, and the question is why? As I have stated in previous postings the defense has not changed that drastically from the Apertura, save for the fact that they simply are not playing as a unit. Where once there was communication, now there seems to be none.

Something has changed, and it is not there for me to see. As coach, or Technical Director - as coaches are called in Argentina, it is the responsibility of one Roberto Sensini to not only see the problem, but to resolve it. This week his answer seemed to be to leave. I have to wonder if maybe that is not just the answer the team needs. It was not that long ago, after all, that the team lost two players of quality, Cristian Sánchez Prette and Diego Torres, who left the team after Sensini managed to give them the impression that they were not in his plans. Had both players stayed, this season could well have been much different.

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