San Lorenzo pin survival hopes on Lombardi

Ailing Argentine giants San Lorenzo have named noted football rescue worker Ricardo Caruso Lombardi as their coach in a desperate bid to avoid the flames of relegation for a second time.

"San Lorenzo de Almagro have a new coach. The club agreed this afternoon to hire Ricardo Daniel Caruso Lombardi and he will take charge of the professional squad on Wednesday," they said on their website on Tuesday.

The 10-times champions, nicknamed the Saints, Crows or Cyclone, are in the bottom four of the relegation standings, which are calculated on points averages over three seasons.

These are separate from the championship table in which San Lorenzo are 17th with eight points from eight matches.

San Lorenzo, one of Argentina's so-called Big Five clubs, face a play-off against one of the top four teams in the Primera B Nacional, the second division, in June. If they drop into the bottom two they will automatically go down, as they did in 1981.

"I think the main thing is to make your players heroes, take the pressure off them," the stocky, quick-talking 50-year-old, who sports a goatee, told Fox Sports.

It will be his second stint at one of the 'Big Five' having successfully avoided relegation in 2009 at Racing Club, his rivals in his first match in charge on Sunday and also struggling for form.

To take the job, Caruso Lombardi is leaving second division Quilmes whom he joined 13 months ago in serious relegation danger. He failed to steer them clear of the drop but now leaves them among the favourites for promotion back to the top flight.


Caruso Lombardi follows former San Lorenzo midfielder Leonardo Madelon into the job, having done the same at Quilmes in March 2011.

Madelon resigned after Sunday's game against Velez Sarsfield behind closed doors after their Nuevo Gasometro stadium was suspended for crowd violence.

San Lorenzo are in desperate need of unity with divisions in the board and the squad, and beset by incidents of violence in and around their ground which is adjacent to a notorious shanty town.

Captain Jonathan Bottinelli was hit by a barrabrava hard-core fan during an argument after training in October and a junior player was stabbed in the stomach by young fan in February.

In the latest incident two weekends ago, for which supporters were banned from Sunday's match, fans tried to storm the match officials' changing room angry that referee Diego Abal allowed visiting Colon's controversial equaliser in a 1-1 draw, a decision he admitted the following day had been a mistake.

Caruso Lombardi spent more than a decade coaching in the lower divisions of the Argentine league before taking charge of first division Argentinos Juniors in 2007. He has also coached Newell's Old Boys and Tigre.