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Clash of egos at River Plate
River Plate’s former goalkeeping great Ubaldo Fillol, a World Cup-winner with Argentina in 1978, has resigned as their first-team keeping coach after what he felt as a lack of respect shown by Juan Pablo Carrizo on Sunday.
Carrizo brushed Fillol aside when the older man tried to console him as he left the pitch with jeers ringing in his ears after a blunder that allowed San Lorenzo to equalise for a 1-1 draw that left River in the relegation zone.
“I felt humiliation and shame… I don’t forgive this kind of attitude,” Fillol, who felt slighted in public, said in a statement on his personal website (www.ubaldofillol.com).
It was the second dire weekend for Carrizo, who was at least partially to blame for both goals in River’s 2-0 defeat away to Boca Juniors in the “superclasico” the previous weekend.
This is the same goalkeeper who has been responsible for a good deal of the points River have picked up this season with excellent performances that earned him an Argentina recall.
It is the way Carrizo reacts to his own mistakes that has the River faithful, a good half of whom jeered him on Sunday, worried that his pride and arrogance get the better of him.
After letting a tentative long-range shot slip from his grasp into the net near the end of the match, Carrizo almost compounded his error by trying to dribble a back pass away from an opponent when he should have played safe by booting it upfield and was lucky not to concede a second goal.
He is being pilloried for playing with River’s future at the worst moment in the world-famous, 110-year-old club’s history.
River have never been relegated but, with four matches to go in the Clausura championship, they are in the bottom four in the relegation standings calculated on points averages over three seasons, facing a promotion playoff against a team from the second-tier Nacional B division.
After three defeats in four matches following a promising earlier half of the 19-match championship, in which they even topped the table and dreamt of the title, nerves are on edge at River with the humiliating prospect of the drop.
Coach JJ Lopez appears unsure whether to pick Carrizo or his young understudy Leandro Chichizola for Sunday’s critical trip south to Bahia Blanca to play Olimpo, the team directly above them in the relegation standings and just a few percentage points outside the drop zone.
“I’ve done this to make sure River moves forward,” Fillol wrote.
If Fillol thought that by resigning he would help to calm the River waters, the reverse has occurred with the topic topping all the sports news bulletins with reports of the squad being ill at ease with the added pressure.
PHOTO: River Plate goalkeeper Juan Pablo Carrizo reacts after conceding a goal as teammate Leandro Pirez (R) applauds during their Argentine First Division soccer match against San Lorenzo de Almagro in Buenos Aires, May 22, 2011. REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci.