What’s next for Defensa y Justicia following Crespo’s exit?

By Martín O’Donnell

The Halcón accomplished their greatest achievement ever when they defeated Lanús in the Copa Sudamericana 2020 final and lifted a continental trophy for the first time in their history. The joy in Florencio Varela after such a feat will live long in the memory, there’s no doubt about that. 

However, as it’s well known, football keeps on going and a new season is already around the corner for Defensa y Justicia. Two weeks on from that historic final, the boss Hernán Crespo has announced that he’ll no longer be at the Estadio Norberto Tomaghello. The unbelievable Sudamericana campaign from Defensa under his tenure has not only impressed in Argentina but also caught the eye from South American giants such as São Paulo, where the 45-year-old coach looks most likely to continue his career. The excellent reputation Crespo already has as a former world-class striker also allows him to make bigger steps in his coaching role, as he isn’t an unknown figure.

But while that’s great for the young manager, Defensa has to start over again with a new boss.

A situation that has happened many times since the Halcón’s promotion to the top flight in 2014, and they haven’t seemed to have many problems when dealing with those moments. A reason why their success isn’t a big surprise, as the team kept on improving despite the high turnover of players and managers. 

The current scenario has the difference that it comes at a time when Defensa has just reached its highest-point and the success may motivate them to keep on chasing even higher goals. Such high-standards may well leave any new manager with a demanding task to deliver. 

Because what led Defensa y Justicia to an amazing Sudamericana championship was a football philosophy and ideas based on the long-term success without the pressure that may be felt on other Argentinian teams. If suddenly they change that way of working with their squad, they would be breaking the path that led them to glory and evolution. 

Taking into account how they behaved in all these years, that probably that won’t happen and the new head coach will presumably work under the same peacefulness that former bosses did. 

Although Defensa didn’t have to deal with the exit of a manager who won a continental prize before, they did have to replace managers that improved their game and that led the team to high positions. They faced that situation already when they got to the first division.

After clinching a spot in the First Division in 2014, the leader of that great campaign in the B Nacional, Diego Cocca, left for Racing. Some seasons later, Ariel Holan moved to Independiente after a good stint on Florencio Varela and Sebastián Becaccece followed the same steps after his great job with the Halcón.

So saying goodbye to a head coach that succeeded is not a novelty for them. Defensa got used to being a place for managers to improve themselves – and also the club- and then move on to look for another opportunities. It already happened before and it’s going on now too, as Crespo left after being crowned in the Sudamericana.

The challenge is, however, to continue having a team that can deliver good performances and that can fight in the next big tasks ahead. A CONMEBOL Recopa against Libertadores’ champions Palmeiras and a group stage spot in South America’s greatest tournament are awaiting for Defensa y Justicia, who will also face the domestic Copa de la Liga. 

It seems that Pablo De Muner will be the caretaker manager for the debut on the national tournament until a new boss is announced. 

Who will be Crespo’s successor is not yet known, but it will probably be a person looking to give a boost to his career and to develop in a club that encourages that.

Martin O’Donnell – 20 years old. Sports writer from Buenos Aires, Argentina. Student of Communications