After days of speculation, River Plate supporters can relax as Copa Libertadores winning coach Marcelo Gallardo confirmed that he would stay at the club for another year.
The 40-year-old added the Copa Argentina title to his impressive trophy haul last week but cast doubt over his future by suggesting he wanted a new challenge and was tired of Argentine football.
River have a 2017 Copa Libertadores campaign to prepare for but have struggled for consistency in the league ever since lifting the title in 2015. With this in mind, the constant need to rebuild his side and increasing interest from Europe, River were worried that Gallardo may choose to call it a day.
After taking a couple of days to think, as requested after the final match of the year against Olimpo, Gallardo held a press conference on Wednesday and told the press, “I’m going to continue for another year.”
“I listened to my heart, this is what I feel and what I want. Today, I’m happy because I have made the right decision,” explained El Muñeco.
“These last days were not easy and for several days I have been evaluating the possibility to step aside. Thank God, I took a few days to reflect because on Friday I could have made the mistake of saying that I would leave.
“Perhaps it was a mistake to say that I was going to take some days to reflect but from that mistake, I felt a huge amount of affection from the people. Not that I didn’t feel this before, but I couldn’t let go such a strong bond with the fans, with the leadership and with the club.”
After an unsuccessful defence of their Copa Libertadores title this year, 2017 will bring a new challenge for Gallardo. As the Primera’s longest standing manager after two and a half years, the former Argentina international will be hoping to add to his Copa Libertadores, Copa Sudamericana, two Recopa Sudamericanas and Copa Argentina titles.
Andrés D’Alessandro has already left the club in this window and Gallardo will be hoping that the likes of Sebastián Driussi or Lucas Alario won’t follow but the theme of rebuilding is one that obviously plays on the mind of the coach.
“Season after season, it’s a continuous reconstuction. We must build a team that is prepared for two clear objectives after being inconsistent in the Primera this season. The demand for greated consistency in all our matches is what we are looking for. I didn’t speak to the leadership about any names and I won’t be doing that. I imagine that they will go to work and then let me know.”
This year has obviously taken its toll on Gallardo and having given River the good news he left the press conference by adding, “Now don’t bother me for ten days. I want to return with energy for what is coming on January 5th.”