It came as very little surprise on Saturday afternoon when Sebastián Beccacece confirmed his departure as Independiente manager less than 24 hours after the club’s Copa Argentina exit to Lanús.
What began as an appointment full of optimism back in June when the exciting Beccacece replaced Ariel Holan uttering the words,”I want to create a side that I love,” ended in sheer frustration with the last of Independiente’s objectives for the year ending in failure.
The Copa Argentina was the ultimate door left ajar for a route into the 2020 Copa Libertadores and with defeat to Lanús, El Rojo were left with only the Copa Sudamericana to look forward to next year.
This year’s Sudamericana ranks as another of Beccacece’s failures. Defeat to Independiente de Valle on away goals at the quarter-final stage denied El Rojo a chance to reproduce the success of Holan’s team in 2017 and another ticket to the 2020 Libertadores fell by the wayside.
Sebastián Beccacece dejó de ser el entrenador de Independiente.
Fernando Berón se hará cargo del equipo de manera interina y dirigirá su primera práctica mañana a las 9 en Domínico. pic.twitter.com/FAhZsBY9KH
“We mutually agreed with the leadership that we hadn’t met the objectives,” Beccacece explained in his press conference on Saturday afternoon.
“I thank the players and the board for the chance they gave me. The ideas couldn’t translate into results.
“When the team was able to get close to what I intended, I liked what I saw but we couldn’t do that with any consistency. The most important thing is that we worked with commitment. That commitment did not translate into results, but it did in the day-to-day work.”
A self-critical Beccacece also mentioned the factors out of his hands that could have seen things very differently – CONMEBOL’s sudden rescheduling of the Copa Sudamericana quarter-final, the timing of new signings and certain refereeing decisions but for the coach that led Defensa y Justicia to a surprise title challenge last season many expected Independiente to compete on all fronts this year.
Two cup exits and a current position of 14th in the league left many questioning whether Beccacece would ever find the solution.
16 games in charge, eight wins, one draw, seven defeats and only 16 goals scored, Independiente have failed to find the net in their last three games and it was this lack of identity and creativity that was most worrisome.
Beccacece was yet to find his best eleven, his best formation, his best system and it wasn’t as if the club hadn’t spent money in the transfer window. Around $15 million was spent to bring in Alexander Barboza, Lucas Romero, Andrés Roa, Sebastián Palacios and Andrés Chávez to bolster the squad and so far only Romero has looked anywhere near like a player to improve the starting eleven.
At 38 Beccacece will come again and has certainly shown enough in his short coaching career that he has a future but the downturn in form of so many players and certain problems off the pitch made it look like success wouldn’t follow in Avellaneda.
The club are not without blame and must learn from the mistakes made if they are to improve matters. Thinking that only replacing Beccacece will be enough would be a grave error.
Fernando Berón comes in as interim coach likely until the end of the year for his third spell in temporary charge. Three wins and a draw from four games after the sackings of Jorge Almirón and Mauricio Pellegrino in 2015 and 2016 leave the club in familiar hands while the board begin their search.
But first it would appear president Hugo Moyano and his directors want to appoint a director of football, a conversation that has rumbled on over the past few weeks at the Estadio Libertadores de América.
The right candidate would be a step in the right direction given the current board have consistently shown their lack of footballing acumen when identifying and negotiating for players. The likes of Diego Forlán, Daniel Montenegro and Jorge Burruchaga have all been sounded out but regardless of club affiliations what Independiente need is someone with a clear, modern vision for the club, an identity that can be carried throughout the various levels and the profile that can help attract players.
That decision will likely be taken before any new manager is approached as the names currently floating around vary wildly.
A hugely ambitious move for Peru manager Ricardo Gareca, a return for Mauricio Pellegrino after being fired from Alavés, former player and current Deportivo Cali manager Lucas Pusineri and even a reconciliation with Ariel Holan all mooted.
Other than finishing the year well in the Superliga, Independiente have little else to play for and won’t rush any decision but those upstairs must get this next step correct.