This is episode two of a wider series. To begin at episode one, please click here.
“Although we may speculate, almost arbitrarily, about which system we believe Teixidó may adopt, the man himself does not have the time to possess that luxury.”
Boca Juniors fans will bombastically tell you that they represent ‘la mitad más uno’ or ‘half plus one’ of the population. The implication being that more than 50% of Argentina’s 44.3 million inhabitants support Los Xeneizes.
Although the declaration may be more theatrical and aspirational than statistically accurate, Boca can certainly make a strong case to be considered the most fervently supported club in the country, if not the continent. ‘El jugador no 12’ memorably and powerfully make their presence known, week-in week-out, defiantly vocal in their support; win, lose or draw.
But they are not without competition. Few fans in the footballing world are so spoiled for choice when it comes to choosing a football team more or less on their doorstep to support, including Boca’s bitter rivals River Plate. If only choosing who to follow was as straightforward as local geography.
New Boca Juniors head coach Fernando Teixidó certainly made it clear at his unveiling recently that he had not only completed his homework on the club itself ahead of his surprise appointment, but also that he has bought into the culture, hyperbole or otherwise, of La Doce, the (in)famously staunch supporters of Los Xeneizes.
Inheriting a squad a little heavy in terms of numbers on the wage bill, and with one or two too many passengers on the wrong side of thirty years of age, Teixidó’s first real job was to declare who his captain would be. There is no real surprise that he has selected Carlos Tevez for this responsibility. El Apache aside, his second was to spell out what fans can expect from his tactical philosophy, while introducing his back-office staff.
In an interesting move, the experienced Italian Marco Landucci has been named as Fernando Teixidó’s assistant manager. Most recently employed as Max Allegri’s right-hand man at Serie A giants Juventus, this transfer could be the most subtly impactful one completed in the Superliga this summer, given the Lucca-born coach’s well reported positive player influence, both in Turin and previously in his stints at Cagliari and Milan.
Let’s take a look at the current Boca Juniors squad now, and how Teixidó could potentially have his players lined up as they charge towards their first competitive fixture of the 19-20 campaign under the unconventional Peruvian’s tutelage.
Colombian left-back Frank Fabra is a fan favourite, marauding down the flank with an impressive energy, so he is bound to feature regularly. While the foil of the workmanlike grit of Ramon ‘Wanchope’ Ábila alongside the more dimuitive and creative Eduardo Salvio, is expected to be key across the front line.
As per Fernando Teixidó’s own nickname, however, we know that he will adopt a ‘palanca,’ or lever, in the number 6 position. Someone willing, able and composed enough to convert a defensive phase into an attacking move, pulling the strings of the overall team shape and direction of travel. The central midfielders on either side of la palanca must be fit and versatile, expected to be as capable going forward as they are at contributing defensively.
Boca’s lineup and tidy performances in the handful of friendlies played in the first week or so of Teixido’s reign suggest that this key role will be operated primarily by the divisive figure of Iván Marcone, in a narrow 4-3-3 system.
Now the above is just a prediction, and although we may speculate, almost arbitrarily, about which system we believe Teixidó may adopt, the man himself does not have the time to possess that luxury.
Boca Juniors’ first competive fixture of the new season is drawing near, and it is as tough as any he could have picked. This confirms that the Peruvian’s honeymoon period celebrating taking charge of the club, must be kept brief.
The Second Round of the Copa Libertadores is imminent, and Boca have drawn the Uruguayan champions, Club Atlético Peñarol. Driven by the toughened experience of Cristian Rodriguez and Walter Gargano, this is no easy fixture. To add further drama, the first leg is away at the Campeón del Siglo stadium in Montevideo, meaning Boca’s passionate home support will have to wait until the opening Superliga match against Tucumán to see Teixido’s team in competitive action at La Bombonera.
We are back in the media room, and Teixidó is again looking relaxed in front of the cameras, this time dressed casually in a grey sweater and black trousers.
Carl Hagedorn for theangrylinesmen is in attendance once more, taking the small pencil from behind his ear and thumbing through a tiny notepad, almost like a hardboiled film noir private detective, standing out while sat among a younger generation of smartphone-toting graduates.
Hagedorn has covered South American football for a number of years, and is known to be quite the critic of tactical naivety, but with a warmth and humour in his writing not often read. Rumour has it that new, yet ubiquitous talent-hoovers The Athletic tried to recruit the experienced Englishman, but he chose to remain with the smaller online publication.
A wry smile forms on the face of the middle-aged English journalist, before turning into a genuine laugh at the absurdity of some of Fernando Teixido’s comments. The Peruvian is at it again here, quoting Dylan in a complicated monologue, with no sense of irony.
After tackling direct questions about tactical width, the possibility of a plan B should his proposed adventurous attacking approach fail to bear fruit in the first leg in Uruguay, and his thoughts on Cristian Pavón’s excellent form out on loan at LA Galaxy, Teixidó looks around the room and delivers his final statement of the press conference.
“Can’t you hear that rooster crowing? Rabbit running down across the road. Underneath the bridge where the water flows through. (I’m) so happy just to see you smile.”
The journalists shuffle out of the room, quietly bewitched and perplexed. Teixidó’s speech leaves everyone confused. This is quickly becoming typical of the 38-year old tactician.
They could be just the ostentatious ramblings of a foolhardy footballing philosopher. Or instead all part of the enigmatic Peruvian’s masterplan to set everyone on edge, opposition managers included, before a ball is even kicked in anger. That’s the real conundrum here.
Thanks for reading.