With the Superliga season now over and Boca Juniors crowned champions once again, and our Team of the Season already decided it’s time to look at would manage such a team? Guillermo Barros Schelotto may have led Boca Juniors to another title but that was just about the bare minimum expected from the Xeneizes this term, so there have perhaps been more impressive displays elsewhere.
Here are four of the Superliga’s standout coaches in 2017/18.
Feel free to comment below on who you think was the Manager of the Season…
Diego Dabove – Godoy Cruz
When Godoy Cruz gave up on Mauricio Larreira at the halfway point of the season, El Tomba had won just once away from home and were firmly in midtable. Few expected major changes when the club appointed reserve coach Diego Dabove but a truly exceptional run of form not only saw Godoy Cruz lose only one more game all season (oddly in Mendoza) but finish in their best ever position.
Had it been a short season or even if the league had gone on just a few more weeks, Godoy Cruz could have ended up as champions, dropping only two points from their last ten fixtures.
Injury had cut Dabove’s career as a goalkeeper short but almost immediately joining Miguel Ángel Russo’s staff at Los Andes at the age of 27 has provided a wealth of experience. 17 years as a goalkeeping coach with spells at four of the big five: Boca Juniors, River Plate, Independiente and Racing Club.
However, it was his work with Godoy Cruz’s reserves that saw the club turn to him after Larreira. Exceptionally well organised, Dabove got the maximum from his squad and a place in the Copa Libertadores has been the reward.
Juan Pablo Vojvoda – Defensa y Justicia
Barring Nelson Vivas’ failed short stint at the start of the season, Defensa y Justicia have had a great record of appointing coaches and Juan Pablo Vojvoda looks to be the latest. Jorge Almirón, Diego Cocca, Ariel Holan and Sebastián Beccacece are just four of the names to have sat in the dugout in Florencio Varela in recent years and as all have gone on to have success elsewhere, El Halcón’s latest manager could be the next in line.
A coach at Newell’s Old Boys, not many would have been aware of Vojvoda when Defensa y Justicia brought him in after Vivas’ dreadful start to the campaign but following victories over Boca, Racing and Independiente, people are taking notice now.
Defensa y Justicia’s flexible, attacking brand of football has drawn praise and the 43-year-old deserves huge credit for sealing a place in the Copa Sudamericana once more for the club. Working on a small budget, and utilising loan deals from many of the grandes, the club has proved an outstanding place for young players to gain top flight experience.
Frank Kudelka – Talleres
Frank Kudelka has already said his emotional goodbyes in Córdoba but what the 57-year-old has achieved with Tallares cannot be understated. Arriving in December 2014 wth the club still in the Torneo Federal A, Kudelka has led them to back-to-back promotions into the top flight and leaves with La T in the Copa Libertadores.
Until the defeat to Boca in April, Talleres were the closest thing to a title rival and while the slump that followed that result almost ended in La T missing out on Copa Libertadores football, a fifth-placed finish was secured.
Never a professional himself, Kudelka worked as a trainer for a number of years before bouncing around in the lower leagues before finding his way to Talleres. Backed by the club, a number of talented players were brought in but Kudelka got them producing an exciting brand of counter-attacking football that has proved incredibly effective.
Gustavo Alfaro – Huracán
Huracán were starting the season in a relegation battle and in need of enough points to ensure they stay away from the drop zone but after turning to the experienced Gustavo Alfaro, El Globo not only eased clear of danger but bagged a spot in the 2019 Copa Libertadores.
A coaching career in excess of 20 years, Alfaro is best known for his success with Arsenal but after more recent spells with Tigre and Gimnasia, it wasn’t necessarily an appointment that excited. However, after suffering opening day defeat to Independiente, Alfaro’s side would lose only four times more in the entire campaign and finished the season, twelve unbeaten.
The end of Ramón Abila’s loan halfway through the season was supposed to signal trouble for Huracán given their apparent lack of goals but Ignacio Pussetto proved to be a talent worthy of a move to Europe and Israel Damonte arrived at the club, transformed into a goalscoring midfielder.
Now well clear of relegation, Huracán can look to build on their fourth-placed finish and look forward to the 2019 Libertadores.