This is episode one of a wider series.
“Sometimes the magnitude of the iconic azul y oro jersey weighs too heavy on a player. Sometimes the fans’ expectations weigh too heavy on the coach.”
The Boca Juniors press officer nervously takes a deep breath, looking down at his notepad covered in scribbles, before clearing his throat and shushing the congregation of reporters assembled in the media room at La Bombonera.
The silence eventually fills the room more conspicuously than the cacophony of voices did.
Miguel Angel Russo was dismissed as Boca Juniors manager just 48 hours or so ago, his return for a second spell as head coach ultimately unsuccessful, amid rumours of a split dressing room and training session in-fighting. Sometimes the magnitude of the iconic azul y oro jersey weighs too heavy on a player. Sometimes the fans’ expectations weigh too heavy on the coach. Not for the first time at Boca, it seems like the latter.
Rumour has it that Mauricio Pochettino could be announced as the new Boca manager, despite his affinity (and playing history) with Rosario-based rivals Newell’s Old Boys. Some romantics have even whispered the suggestion that Diego Maradona may be the man in the frame. It would make for a wonderful headline, but even the least pragmatic of de la hinchada de Boca must recognise that it would not be a sensible move. Who could it be?
The door opens and as camera shutters click and flash, numerous microphones and smartphones pop up in front of the blue and gold-adorned table top. In walks a sharply dressed gentleman in a simple grey two-piece suit, white shirt, no tie. He has the thin-framed glasses and unintimidating face of a substitute teacher; but the square shoulders and an assured confidence in his walk to the chair to suggest a man of substance.
The man in question is Fernando Teixidó.
“Who?” you may ask. As quickly as the less-informed journalists in the room can open up the Wikipedia app to research him, Teixidó beams a confident smile, adjusts his wristwatch, takes a sip of water and begins to answer some pointed questions.
Born 4 June 1981 in Arequipa, Peru, Fernando Marcelo Teixidó played for his local sides FBC Melgar and Binacional in a relatively unspectacular playing career between 1999 and 2011. An unfortunate knee injury from an innocuous tackle ended his career prematurely at 30 years of age.
Teixidó played as a defensive midfield enforcer, but was able to tidily carry the ball out of defence in a counter attacking tactic most notably deployed in the early part of the 2000s by then Melgar manager and Teixidó-mentor Juan Reynoso. It was this pivoting counter-attacking habit that earned him his nickname, ‘la palanca,’ or ‘the lever’ in English. Despite his relative competency on the pitch, his stock didn’t rise high enough outside of Peru for the rest of the footballing world to pay any attention.
Upon hanging up his boots, the Peruvian showed no signs of wishing to put his feet up with them. Between meeting and marrying his Portuguese wife Andreia, and regularly visiting his elderly father, Carlos Alberto Texidó in his native Catalonia, Teixidó earned a degree in data science from the National University of Saint Augustine in 2013.
Teixidó then undertook some minor roles at clubs, most notably in a spell as a data analyst for former club Melgar, and briefly as a youth coach for Bolivian side The Strongest, while undertaking his coaching qualifications.
The combination of Fernando Texidó’s hard-tackling approach on the pitch and his intellectual disposition towards statistics and counter-attacking football, will surely prove central to how he will perform in La Boca. Only time will tell, however.
As the introductory unveiling looks to wrap up, Carl Hagedorn, columnist for the football website theangrylinesmen, reviews his notes.
In contrast to expressing his gratitude at the opportunity granted to him to manage such a successful and iconic club, among other platitudes, Fernando Teixidó made three very bold claims that really stood out. Stood out in a way that in a couple of years time, could either be retrospectively considered very soothsaying (see Jürgen Klopp’s “normal one” interview) or naively over-ambitious (see various clichéd intentions new coaches always seem to outline when put under the spotlight).
- Teixidó wants not only to win the Superliga trophy back from the 2018-19 champions Racing, but wants Boca Juniors to overtake River Plate as the most sucessful domestic champions in Argentina overall. The current score? River lead their Buenos Aires rivals 36 titles to 33.
- Boca Juniors last won the Copa Libertadores back in 2007, interestingly during the first management spell of the recently sacked Miguel Angel Russo. “13 years is too long to wait for La 12” says Teixidó with conviction, endearing himself to the passionate Boca supporters groups in the barrio, as he outlines his intention to bring that trophy home too.
- In arguably the bravest postulation of the three, Fernando Teixidó says he envisages that Boca Juniors, and other Argentinian clubs, could one day cease to be seen as a stepping stone to European football by a number of talented South American players. In a further move to ingratiate himself to the supporters, Teixidó refers to himself as ‘La Palanca de los Xeneizes’ or ‘the lever of the Genoese,’ in reference to Boca Juniors’ Italian heritage. He even shoe-horns in a mention of current director Juan Román Riquelme, stating the legendary attacker is the type of player he wants not only to attract or create here at Boca, but also to keep from the clutches of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus et al.
Bold claims from the young manager.
If what Teixidó is saying translates into reality, the times they are a-changing at La Bombonera. If not, the hunt for the right man to take the iconic blue and gold to the proverbial ‘next level’ will continue, and this experiment will have failed.
Teixidó thanks the press for coming, buttoning his jacket as he stands up, his chest puffed out, triumphantly.
In a surreal, almost Cantona-esque moment before he exits the conference room, Teixidó turns and quotes Bob Dylan (reportedly his favourite writer and singer) by saying “Don’t take this heaven from one. If you must cling to someone, now and forever, let it be me.”
At the very least, this will be interesting…
Thanks for reading.