Weeks of intense speculation and unofficial confirmation came to its obvious conclusion on Friday evening as Independiente presented Sebastián Beccacece as their new manager having dispensed with Ariel Holan 24 hours earlier.
This was of course well known, before even Independiente avoided a potentially embarrassing cup exit and secured their safe passage to the Copa Sudamericana last 16 against Rionegro Águilas. Defeat would have certainly ended Holan’s two-and-a-half-year spell in Avellaneda but even in victory, the voices around the club suggesting that the 58-year-old’s cycle had come to an end grew louder.
Holan had impressed at Defensa y Justicia in his first managerial position back in 2016 and that prompted Independiente to appoint the former hockey coach in 2017. Despite lifting the Copa Sudamericana in his first year in charge, a drop in form couldn’t save Holan and his replacement is another up and coming manager who has caught the eye in Florencio Varela. Now Beccacece has the opportunity to reproduce that success at one of Argentina’s grandes.
After leading Defensa y Justicia to a surprising title challenge last season, Beccacece rightly drew plaudits for his underdog side’s style of play and having already seen a number of that team leave the club it was clear that the 38-year-old coach would also be departing El Halcón.
Y caminando llegó al lugar más lindo del mundo 🏃🏻♂️ 🏟
— C. A. Independiente (@Independiente) June 7, 2019
A step up to an Independiente side left disappointed by a seventh-placed finish in the Superliga but who have aspirations to challenge for honours as the status of the club demands provides Beccacece with a great opportunity to enhance his reputation.
Gastón Togni and Domingo Blanco who thrived under Beccacece last year on loan at Defensa y Justicia are now back with Independiente and the former assistant to Jorge Sampaoli has greater resources to build a side capable of competing in both the league and the Copa Sudamericana.
Speaking to the press at his official presentation, Beccacece made reference to the fact Independiente haven’t finished in the top three since 2002 and his desire to form a side that the supporters will love. In doing so several of the targets that had already been leaked were mentioned, notably Tigre’s Lucas Menossi, Brighton’s Alexis Mac Allister and a possible return for centre forward Emanuel Gigliotti.
All would improve Independiente’s squad which has noticeably declined since lifting the Copa Sudamericana in 2017. Holding on to the players of the quality of Nicolás Tagliafico and Ezequiel Barco was always likely to be impossible but recruitment has been poor and Holan has to shoulder some of the blame for allowing players like Gigliotti or Diego Rodríguez to leave for relatively small sums when replacements simply didn’t match expectations.
Ariel Holan ha dejado de ser el entrenador de #Independiente.
— C. A. Independiente (@Independiente) June 6, 2019
Despite this Holan’s tenure will be remembered fondly in Avellaneda. The continuous chopping and changing of managers and Independiente’s humiliating relegation in 2013 made it a bleak era in the illustrious history of the club and yet Holan made an immediate impact when replacing Gabriel Milito ahead of the 2017 season.
Arguably one of the strongest sides in South America when Ezequiel Barco scored in the Maracanã to defeat Flamengo and lift the Sudamericana, what many had hoped would be the start of something great was probably on reflection the peak.
A narrow defeat to Grêmio in the Recopa and later a Suruga Bank triumph in Japan did provide Holan with another ‘international’ title but domestic form failed to improve. Missing out on Copa Libertadores qualification via the league once more proved decisive.
The door to the 2020 Libertadores is not completely closed and now Beccacece is now tasked with trying to find a way in. El Rojo remain in the Copa Sudamericana and the Copa Argentina with both competitions offering a viable route. Progressing in both and improving league form, particularly at the Estadio Libertadores de América, will be vital and the often impatient supporters will likely not afford Beccacece much time.