Former Argentina defender Gabriel Milito puts disappointment behind him to follow in footsteps of Sampaoli & Berizzo at O’Higgins

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After an illustrious playing career that yielded two La Liga titles and a Champions League at Barcelona and a place in Argentina’s 2006 World Cup squad, it is fair to say that Gabriel Milito’s managerial career has so far been underwhelming.

Since resigning from his beloved Independiente at the end of 2016, Milito has been out of work but has been continuously linked to roles since, including the recent Argentina youth shake-up and Defensa y Justicia.

However, after a poor start to the Chilean season, the 36-year-old has now been confirmed as the new manager of O’Higgins.

Following in the footsteps of Jorge Sampaoli and Eduardo Berrizo, Milito will be hoping that O’Higgins will prove a useful step in fulfilling his coaching ambitions after the disappointment of Independiente and Estudiantes.

After starting and finishing his career with El Rojo, following spells in Europe with Real Zaragoza and Barcelona, there was a degree of expectation surrounding Milito’s venture into coaching, having worked so closely under Pep Guardiola at the Camp Nou.

An initial spell as an Independiente youth coach saw Estudiantes provide Milito with his first big chance but after a little over seven months in La Plata, El Mariscal was out. Results hadn’t been terrible but Milito hadn’t been able to stamp his identity on the team and this problem resurfaced when he landed his ideal job back in Avellaneda last year.

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Milito’s Independiente struggled for goals and while they kept possession well, there was little attacking impetus and as the results worsened under the pressure of the supporters at the Estadio Libertadores de América, the inexperienced coach seemed unable to turn things around.

As an icon at the club, Milito was afforded more patience than many others would have been but after only 19 matches in charge and eight wins, which saw hopes of Copa Libertadores qualification go up in smoke, the former Argentina international stepped down.

“It’s time to step aside. I was not able to get what I wanted, I want to say thanks for the opportunity, and also the love,” Milito said after yet another home defeat in December.

His resignation may have caught the club off-guard but it probably only hastened his exit and saved president Hugo Moyano pulling the trigger.

O’Higgins now present a new opportunity and a chance for Milito to finally make a name for himself perhaps away from the glare of Argentina. The sense from both his previous jobs is that there is a good coach there but one that still needs time to adapt and develop.

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