This column posited last week when the Carlos Tevez to Rosario Central rumours first emerged that the ex-Boca Juniors and Argentina star, just as in his playing days, would not be daunted by the task of turning around fortunes at one of the Liga Profesional de Fútboll's bottom-dwellers. But as he sat in the chill of Liniers on Monday to watch his new charges in action, ‘Carlitos’ would be forgiven for at least entertaining second thoughts on his decision to enter coaching.
The scale of his challenge was abundantly evident as Central went down to yet another defeat, 2-0 at the hands of Vélez Sarsfield. Goalkeeper Gaspar Servio for one did nothing to endear himself to his new boss with an inexplicable error just six minutes into the game.
Servio was among the most vocal supporters of Tevez's arrival in the week, claiming that “it is special for Carlitos to come here, the team will be backing him to the death.” But on Monday last week's penalty-scoring hero appeared to get carried away with the new appointment and tried to take a leaf out of his own playbook, dribbling his way out of trouble near his own goal-line. Unfortunately for Servio the gambit failed miserably and Luca Orellano was left with the easiest of finishes to put Vélez ahead; and a late goal from Daniel Fernández ended the game as a contest, sealing a result that keeps the Canalla deep in the bottom half of the table with just four points from as many games.
The following day Tevez was announced in his new role and presented to the Central faithful, albeit without his chosen assistant, hockey supremo Chapa Retegui. The Olympic gold-medallist had been expected to accompany him to Rosario, a curious twist on an already eye-catching story. It then turned downright bizarre when it turned out that in order to take up his new role Retegui would have to resign from the Buenos Aires City government, where he is currently acting as sports secretary. He ultimately was not prepared to take that leap and will remain in the capital, while vowing to lend the rookie a hand whenever he needs it and if his secretarial post allows. It was an unwelcome early setback for Tevez, who the previous day in his first press conference vowed: “My friend ‘Chapa’ is part of this project... he is going to be with us.”
Retegui, though, is not the only man backing Carlitos in his new adventure. The alleged involvement of super-agent Christian Bragarnik and Daniel Angelici in his arrival has not gone down well with many Central fans, who fear a silent takeover of the club behind the icon. Some 70 club members, led by provincial lawmaker Carlos del Frade, even presented an injunction demanding more information on the project, declaring that “we are not a business platform nor an empty husk. Central is much more than a business venture.”
Your everyday coaching appointment this certainly is not, then. Tevez's Central stint looks set to be a roller-coaster ride on and off the pitch, starting with his debut at the Gigante del Arroyito on Friday against Gimnasia; and win, lose or draw, as usual the star is unlikely to ever be very far from the headlines.