Juan Antonio Pizzi returns to San Lorenzo & could look to reserves after league-cup double

It was little surprise to see San Lorenzo dispense of Jorge Almirón after six dismal months in charge and now calling on a familiar face Juan Antonio Pizzi must oversee a swift turnaround to see Los Cuervos back near the top.

It wouldn’t be the first time Pizzi has changed the fortunes of San Lorenzo and while the club are not in the relegation trouble they were when the former Spanish international forward took over in 2012, a similar change in momentum is required.

During that year in charge, Pizzi led San Lorenzo to the Torneo Inicial title and while he sparked anger from supporters by almost immediately quitting to take over at Valencia it did lay foundations for Edgardo Bauza’s historic Copa Libertadores winning side the following year.

Now with a chance to set the record straight, Almirón has surprising left Pizzi with a San Lorenzo side still in this year’s Copa Libertadores ahead of next month’s last 16 clash with Cerro Porteño.

It is about the only positive to come from Almirón’s spell in charge. Despite succeeding Claudio Biaggio with a still glowing reputation from his time with Lanús, Almirón was never able to match that success and a record of only four wins from 25 matches in charge only partially illustrates just how poor San Lorenzo were during his tenure.

One Superliga win in fifteen saw San Lorenzo finish one point off the bottom of the table and a failure to score in 14 of the 25 games provided further evidence of the lack of ideas and creativity in Almirón’s system.

To only make matters worse Almirón had been given the green light to bring in a number of his own transfer targets, just as he had done with the same woeful results at Atlético Nacional before. The Colombian club will have been relieved to see their departed manager take a number with him to Bajo Flores as part of a botched transfer window but it made results with San Lorenzo all the more galling.

If these dealings and Almirón quite publicly stating that the club’s youth players were not up to the mark weren’t bad enough, the success of the reserves only contradicted the manager.

An extra-time win over Estudiantes on Sunday saw San Lorenzo’s youngsters lift the reserves Copa Superliga to follow up a league campaign in which they strolled to the title, losing only once all season.

Striker Alexander Díaz ended the season as top scorer in the reserves Superliga and classy number five Emanuel Maciel played a vital role at the base of the midfield to name just two who perhaps could have contributed more to the senior squad when the majority of those brought in by Almirón so clearly struggled to find their feet.

Adolfo Gaich, once more shining away with Argentina under-20s, midfielder Manuel Insuarralde, unfortunate to lose his place in that under-20 World Cup squad, and even the highly regarded 17-year-old Matías Palacios are all young academy talents who should be playing more important roles under Pizzi.

The new manager is understood to be far keener on utilising the club’s decent crop of academy products just as he did with the likes of Ángel Correa, Walter Kannemann and Héctor Villalba in 2013.

And with Marcos Senesi already forming a strong partnership with Fabricio Coloccini in central defence, Nicolás Reniero displaying flashes of his ability over the past season and Nahuel Barrios giving supporters something to cheer over the bleak last couple of months there is a healthier base to build on than the club’s current predicament suggests.

If Pizzi can add a few new faces to supplement this core and bring through some more of the academy products then supporters could have something to get behind on the pitch rather than just the historic move back to Boedo.

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