After claiming back-to-back league titles with a club like Boca Juniors, a young manager would usually be tipped for great things in Europe but Guillermo Barros Schelotto has instead been named new LA Galaxy boss. A coup for the MLS club but perhaps an indication that there are still some questions to be asked of the 45-year-old coach.
Barros Schelotto is of course familiar with North American football having enjoyed a successful three-year spell with Columbus Crew as a player between 2007-10 and after being linked with a return to his former club and champions Atlanta United, LA Galaxy eventually swooped for El Mellizo (The twin).
“I am honored to be the head coach for the most decorated club in Major League Soccer. This is a tremendous opportunity for me and I am excited to get to work. The LA Galaxy have long been the standard in MLS and I am ready to push the club to new heights,” Barros Schelotto said.
— LA Galaxy (@LAGalaxy) January 2, 2019
Having been without a permanent manager since Sigi Schmid stepped down in September, Barros Schelotto will take over from interim coach Dominic Kinnear and look to make an immediate impact on a Galaxy side that failed to reach the 2018 playoffs despite Zlatan Ibrahimovic scoring 22 goals.
The iconic Swede will provide the focal point of the Galaxy attack again this season and Barros Schelotto’s task will be constructing the team around Ibrahimovic.
“After a comprehensive search, domestically and internationally, we believe Guillermo will be a landmark signing for this club. Guillermo is a proven winner who has experience coaching, playing and winning for big clubs. It is our hope that Guillermo’s managing style and familiarity with MLS will bring trophies and championships to LA Galaxy fans and the city of Los Angeles,” General Manager Dennis te Kloese explained.
And that is certainly true. Barros Schelotto won six Primera titles and four Copa Libertadores titles with Boca before joining Columbus Crew, adding one MLS Cup and two Supporters’ Shields as a player. A former Argentina international, the 45-year-old’s coaching career has also largely been a success with a Copa Sudamericana triumph at first club Lanús and back-to-back league trophies at Boca.
Guillermo Barros Schelotto.
— Joga Bonito USA (@Jasoninho10) January 2, 2019
However, those titles don’t paint a full picture and that is why Barros Schelotto still has something to prove.
While his initial spell with Lanús as manager provided plenty of promise and deservedly saw his dynamic side lift the Copa Sudamericana, it could be argued that in his three years in charge of Boca, Barros Schelotto failed to leave a mark and in the critical moments was out-thought by opposition coaches.
Back-to-back league titles on the surface may suggest otherwise but in both cases Boca somewhat stumbled over the line and in the case of the first were unquestionably aided by the fact that Barros Schelotto had failed to qualify the club for any continental competition.
With a budget that would dwarf almost every other club in Argentina, Barros Schelotto has had the luxury of one of the best squads in South America, two or three players in every position and the possibility to even go out and bring in strong backups in the event of injury.
In such circumstances it might be expected that Barros Schelotto’s Boca have more of an identity but after three years they were still very dependent on individual brilliance rather than any clear tactical structure.
Which may sound familiar with how Galaxy looked for much of last season so it is a valid question to ask whether Barros Schelotto is the man to provide that required framework and more importantly can the Argentinian do so within the strict financial confines of MLS rather than the free spending environment that Boca afforded.
It is an appointment of huge intrigue and another reason to keep an eye on MLS this season. Barros Schelotto begins preseason in February ahead of his league debut against Chicago Fire on March 2nd.