With the dream of lifting an eighth Copa Libertadores title and the desire to return Independiente to its former glories, El Rojo have made some swift and positive moves in the transfer market ahead of an important year. Manager Ariel Holan has signed a new deal at the club that runs until 2021 and four promising signings have already been unveiled.
Holan extending his stay points toward the long-term project the coach had desired and the additions of Carlos Benavídez, Guillermo Burdisso, Francisco Silva, Pablo Hernández and possibly Richard Sánchez to follow all add quality to the first team pool.
The Libertadores is the immediate target but challenging for honours regularly is the goal and that requires a break from the mentality that plagues Argentinian football.
The cut-throat business of managing in Argentina saw Independiente as one of the prime examples of the short-term thinking that grips the majority of football clubs. A different coach at least once a year, a high turnover of players and off-field problems too numerous to mention were not things restricted to the Avellaneda club but had seen the the gradual decline of one of South America’s greatest clubs and their eventual relegation in 2013.
Slowing rebuilding and achieving promotion immediately back to the top flight, several more talented managers came and went before Independiente turned to Ariel Holan at the end of 2016.
The former field hockey coach had plenty of experience as an assistant in Argentinian football but only a little over a year with Defensa y Justicia as the main man but had shown enough potential for Independiente to turn to the 57-year-old.
— C. A. Independiente (@Independiente) June 27, 2018
A lifelong supporter of the club, innovative and tactically astute, Holan had the characteristics for success but it would mean nothing without results.
Thankfully Holan’s impact was almost immediate and bringing through a number of talented young players, Independiente began playing some of the most attractive football in Argentina. Copa Libertadores qualification via the league may have just eluded them despite losing Emiliano Rigoni to Zenit St. Petersburg, El Rojo had eyes on the Copa Sudamericana.
Captained by Nicolás Tagliafico and inspired by the attacking trio of Maxi Meza, Martín Benítez and Ezequiel Barco, Independiente lifted the title after defeating Flamengo in the Maracaná and the joy for the club to be back among the biggest clubs in the continent was clear.
Ariel Holan deserves enormous credit for that and after threats from the club’s Barra Bravas almost saw the coach walk away in the aftermath of lifting the Copa Sudmericana, El Rojo were desperate not to see the coach’s contract expire at the end of this year.
The desire to remain was there but only if the club shared Holan’s vision. One which saw investment from the ground up and allowed the coach to look beyond just his first eleven and for longer than the next six months.
No one would be naive enough to suggest that Holan’s new contract until 2021 guarantees his job security but Independiente also look to be backing their manager in the transfer market.
¡Que jueves, Rey de Copas!
— C. A. Independiente (@Independiente) June 28, 2018