Man in black causes Avellaneda aggro again

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‘In an uncommon reaction, Russo wasn’t angry with the referee, despite losing’ – Sunday newspaper headline

Coaches blaming referees for a defeat is par for course around the world. But the knife-sharpening ahead of this weekend’s Independiente-Racing clash meant that the man taking charge of the Avellaneda derby would be under more scrutiny than most.

Given that Racing lost to a solitary goal – scored from 12 yards – and played half an hour with 10 men, Miguel Ángel Russo had plenty of material to deflect attention away from the problems at home, but he preferred not to talk about the referee.

Everybody else did.

Olé were satisfied with the man in black’s performance. "He was right on the penalty and the two red cards," wrote the sports daily, "but he made conceptual mistakes." Beg pardon? "He didn’t use his linesman."

In the scheme of things, ‘not consulting assistants’ is in the lower leagues of gripes with match officials. This being a clásico though, the clubs had built up a head of steam before the first challenge was lunged in anger.

But rather than overpaid and uncouth footballers stirring up trouble, it was the allegedly overpaid and definitely uncouth club directors doing it. 

"A week ago, Independiente were thrashed by the Vélez B team," sneered Racing’s president Rodolfo Molino. Racing only won the clásico with San Lorenzo because of an offside goal, retorted the neighbour.

Independiente president Julio Comparada, meanwhile, ‘understood’ that ‘people’ were ‘worried’ about the referee. "In the last seven years Racing haven’t had one penalty. Independiente have had six," jousted the Racing camp.

Outside the boardroom and on the pitch, the penalty argument fell down after 41 minutes when Racing full-back Brian Lluy literally handed Independiente a seventh penalty against their local rivals in eight years.

Darío Gandín’s cheeky finish from the spot verged on the provocative, but Olé thought that it was Mr Molino’s fault all along.

"Don’t you think you are inciting violence?" enquired the paper in midweek.

"Anyway," responded the Racing presidente, with little attention to grammar, or perhaps just not hearing the question and planning his next tirade, "he [Comparada] launched the first missile."

The battle between Racing and Independiente will carry on, regardless of who presides over events in Avellaneda, but one thing is starting to ring true – Racing simply cannot beat Americo ‘Tolo’ Gallego.

Not with River, not with Newell’s, and, more importantly, not with Independiente – Tolo has never lost to Racing. As optadiego would perhaps put it: Daddy.

Racing and Independiente weren’t the only ones with concerns over the refereeing, although when Huracán prepared to take on league leaders Vélez, it wasn’t a problem of what might happen. It was what had already happened.

"Those who win you call CHAMPIONS. Those who steal you call THIEVES," read the Monopoly-money 100 peso notes handed out before the game for Globo fans to throw at the supposed 'ladrones'. (Note: FourFourTwo has neither idea nor opinion on why false money was handed out before this game...)

It will take several years, if not aeons, for Huracán to forget having their league title 'stolen' last June in the Clausura ’09.

Vélez played Huracán on the final day of that season in what boiled down to a title decider. Hurácan needed a single point to be champions, Vélez needed a win.

Hurácan had played glorious football all season. They were everyone’s second team. Coach Ángel Cappa was God. With less than five minutes to go, and at 0-0, a shocking foul on the Globo keeper left him stretched out on the ground and in agony. There was no whistle. Maxi Moralez scored for Vélez and the title was theirs.

Since that day last June, Vélez have kept their squad and their form. Huracán have lost their coach, their players, and their position in the league.

The 3-2 win for Huracán at the weekend will not heal the scars of the Clausura 09, but it sure felt good in Parque Patricios.

Vélez losing gave other teams an opportunity to leapfrog them in the table. Cólon grabbed a point against Central to go top while Godoy Cruz joined them on points.

If the idiot with the three-metre flagpole had stopped trying to take out Argie Bargy’s eye out for 90 minutes perhaps there’d be a closer analysis of Godoy Cruz’s title chances, but that will have to wait for another week...

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