Fernando Gago at the press conference;  the DT gets annoyed when they ask him about the headlines

To visit this Saturday at Central BarracksCoach Fernando Gago The initial formation will go back, with three changes. Racing never repeated the headlines in the 11 dates of this championship. He only did it twice in the 35 games he had on the year. Beyond the rotation, the suspensions and the injuries, the name changes already seem like a trademark of the technicianwith the virtue of having built a team that has a football identity beyond who plays, but with the defect that this identity also includes being a fragile team that sometimes it falls apart on its own and that it does not finish taking advantage of the opportunities that are presented to it.

Since his time as a footballer, Gago cultivated a somewhat surly personality when he appears in public. As a coach, his press conferences are usually brief, without strong messages that influence for better or worse the thermal sensation that the club is experiencing. Gago’s media appearances do not leave too many pearls. But of the conferences he gave in these 43 games that he leads as an academic DT there are two scenes that were out of the mold. And both are related to the formation of the formation for each game.

Fernando Gago at the press conference; the DT gets annoyed when they ask him about the headlinesracing press

“So much need to have the team! God…”, He answered with a mixture of annoyance and irony, when the TyC Sports journalist Lautaro Salucho asked about the 11, in the preview of a match against Talleres. That was in March. In May, after a win against Aldosivi in ​​which the young Carlos Alcaraz was a figure, Gago sat next to the midfielder in conference.

When Alcaraz, 19, was asked about his feelings about having earned a place in the team despite his youth, The coach severely cut off the answer: “Carlos is not a starter because there are no starters here”. It’s just two scenes. anecdotes But that they serve to graph how the head of a technician who throughout the year he only repeated the formation twice: in the League Cup classic against Independiente and in the League Cup semifinals, against Boca. The word that annoys him the most is “headlines”, so that no one relaxes and everyone must earn their permanence in the team with effort and good performances.

On those two occasions the team came from scoring. In the win against Rojo he put up the same 11 players that had beaten Atlético Tucumán 4-0 (Gómez; Mura, Sigali, Insúa, Piovi; Miranda, Moreno, Alcaraz; Hauche, Copetti, Chancalay). In the penalty kick elimination against Xeneize, they repeated the formation that had beaten Aldosivi 5-0 four days earlier (Gómez; Mura, Sigali, Insúa, Piovi; Miranda, Moreno, Alcaraz; Rojas, Copetti, Chancalay).

Racing and Tigre drew 3-3 at the Presidente Perón stadium, in a match corresponding to the eleventh day of the Professional Football League (LPF)
Racing and Tigre drew 3-3 at the Presidente Perón stadium, in a match corresponding to the eleventh day of the Professional Football League (LPF)Jorge Matías Baravalle – FotoBAIRES

In many games the changes were obligations: suspensions or injuries that led to having to put their hands on the team. But beyond those conditions, The former Boca midfielder is a coach who likes to make some adjustments according to the rival and, above all, how he sees his players in previous training sessions. It has even surprised with unexpected names that appear when the official formation sheet has to be delivered minutes before the match.

During the first half of the year the calendar gave no respite: between the end of March and the end of May there were 13 consecutive weeks of competition with midweek matches. That forced the rotation and to manage minutes: to define the changes during a game on some occasions Gago approached the bench of substitutes to check on a tablet the loads of his soccer players. With Racing eliminated from the Copa Sudamericana and the Copa Argentina, there is no match overload since they only compete in the local tournament, but their methodology is still very analytical. That’s why, In the eleven dates that have elapsed, the coach has not repeated the team.

And he won’t do it this Saturday on the All Boys field, against Barracas Central: it’s likely that Iván Pillud replaces Facundo Mura on the right side, which Gonzalo Piovi does the same with Eugenio Mena on the left wing and Maxi Romero appear as center forward for the first time since the start, in place of the suspended Enzo Copetti.

Like the dilemma of the chicken and the egg, in this second half of the year it seems difficult to discern if Gago does not repeat the team because he has not found it yet or, precisely, he does not find the team because he does not repeat it. The Academy takes 20 games without being able to string together two wins in a row, with an irregular walk. But the changes are not always for performance, injury or suspension. Many times they are decisions of the coach. The striking thing is that there are players who appear in the team, perform but then return to the substitute bench. Nicolás Oroz and Jonathan Gómez may be the clearest examples.

Perhaps the greatest virtue of the coach is to have promoted a team that at the end of last year seemed to have very few footballers in a position to earn a place as a starter. Now, it draws attention when one is left out. Some of them were reinforcements that arrived with Gago, such as Mura, Emiliano Insúa, Jonathan Gómez, Gabriel Hauche, Emiliano Vecchio. But most are footballers that he recovered, when they no longer had the trust of the fan: Gonzalo Piovi, Leonel Miranda, Aníbal Moreno, Enzo Copetti, Tomás Chancalay or Oroz himself. In that individual improvement, perhaps the explanation for the absence of a memory team can be found.

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