This week’s game against Almagro saw the return of Salvador Pasini, ex Atlanta pundit and Manager, and also a Chacarita former player and Manager as well, a move that was met with some distaste by Atlanta fans yet was dismissed or ignored by most.
Why is Pasini so important?
Salvador is well considered manager within Atlanta’s circles. Under him, the team managed to avoid relegation on the 2002-2003 season to the C category (Fourth division) for the first time in the Club’s history after having played in the Primera Division and Nacional B for several stints. In the early twenty first century the Club was in bad shape financially, having filed for bankruptcy, losing the Sede Social (the Club’s HQ, next to the stadium) and finding difficulties and fighting bad conditions overall. Pasini found his way to a not particularly gifted team shaped to his own game play (solid deffensive work, strong attitude and Salvador’s flamboyant loud-mouthed yet friendly way). Put in Salvador’s words, when he arrived “even the walls were crying” yet the team managed to pull back 30 points from the back, avoid relegation, and over the course of the following year, go through an 23-game unbeaten run (18 away games without losing as well) and finding a way for some players starting their careers in a good way like Lucas Ferreiro. His first season saw a 57,7% effectiveness as Manager.
Nevertheless Pasini’s flamboyant approach has often gained or lost him fans: forgotten are the days where as manager he played out his son Mariano (not one of the club’s most gifted players), or declared his love for the club as well as his family’s. A recent brief encounter with him has left a concept for us to think regarding him: “I encourage entertaining football, I wouldn’t have done the same way” when consulted about his thoughts on the gameplay of Rondina’s (an ex-player of his) team in the 2012-2013 season and on the balanced (or some say deffensive) tactics by Rondina.
He eventually became Atlanta’s second longest serving Manager, with two non-consecutive periods of 119 games on the bench.
So what went on for Pasini to become so vilified by the Atlanta fans?
Long have been gone the days where punditry of the players and the managers meant that both were born on a club, loved a club and lived by the club. Modern day football is no stranger to the idea that players are not guided by love of the game (or most of them) or “amor a la camiseta” as we argentinians say (loving the club and the fans). With Ascenso teams being such a small world, this was possible where players maybe not talented enough to play Primera División were revered whereas in other situations they would have been deemed to oblivion. Nowadays, money, ambition, the possibility of playing abroad, fame, women and so have gained a relevant role in which the player is a gift and needs to be cared of instead of the club. Yet club fans across Argentina overall, in the Ascenso, and in Atlanta are adamant to recognise that this has gone that way, while some still believe whenever a player or a manager declares undying love for the club and the fans, sometimes this is laid only to words but not the actual feeling.
“Para mi Atlanta, es algo que tengo pegado en mi vida, yo me voy a ir pensando que hay equipos que me quieren y equipos que no. Yo lloraba, me reía, hablaba, porque se lo que es sufrir junto al hincha de Atlanta. Que todos los partidos te griten “Se van para la C” hasta el último partido. Y hasta ese instante, tuvimos que esperar 8 minutos a ver como salía Ferro. ¿Quién me lo va a sacar eso? Nadie.”
“For me, Atlanta is something glued to my life, and I’m going to leave thinking that there are teams that love me and some that don’t. I cried, I laughed, spoke, because I know what it is to suffer beside the Atlanta fan. That on all games you get yelled “you’re going to the C (fourth division) up until the last game. And to that instant, we had to wait 8 minutes to see how Ferro did. Who’s going to take that away from me? Nobody”.
– Salvador Pasini.
Pasini’s role in particular in the club has been relevant enough for him securing himself a place in the block of icons and pundits of a Club that doesn’t posess many of them, with him declaring publicly that both him and his family are and will always be Atlanta fans. This is not difficult to believe, and some fans have taken that word from him as holy. Pasini left and returned on 2007 for another period.
Yet all events changed on the 2011-2012 season of the Nacional B campaign. Atlanta had undergone a convulsed season with a split team that earned some impressive wins (for an example the River Plate victory 1-0 after a 7-1 defeat on the first round of the season that saw River Plate down on the Nacional B and Atlanta on the same category after 15 years of Primera B football). A string of managers had gone by (Alonso, Ghiso, Roldán among them) leaving Sergio Rondina to try to save Atlanta from the last place and secure relegation. Pasini at that time was managing Primera B Metropolitana team Estudiantes de Buenos Aires (Caseros) with good, yet non-impressive results and no chances of promotion. Needless to say, among the switch of teams he was not called to direct as candidates like Ghiso had more flare to the position, and after that and Roldan, a low-profile manager was what the club called for with tough chances to avoid relegation.
Fierce rivals Chacarita were in the same situation. After an institutional debacle and losing many players, Chacarita was on the bottom against Brown de Madryn, Deportivo Merlo and Atlanta, looking for a way to save themselves from direct relegation. Having been an ex-player on 1975, Salvador Pasini was called to be the manager, and left Estudiantes de Caseros to become the new Chacarita Manager for the last five games of the season. Atlanta at the time was involved in a controversy for having called upon AFA for Chacarita having wronged by hiring Mauro Pajón, an Atlanta Player that left on December 2011, yet was not correctly inscribed in the AFA ledgers. Atlanta called upon Chacarita to be punished for including a player incorrectly yet the claim was dismissed by the AFA heads and tribunal.
Chacarita managed, under Pasini, to avoid direct relegation yet went on to play the promotion and lost against returning Nueva Chicago, that had been playing on Primera B after incidents that led to a point withdrawal relegation-leading 2010-2011 season with incidents from its fans with Tigre.
On this occasion, Pasini had a peculiar incident in which he thought he had won the penalty shootout against Chicago when the last penalty by Toledo (CH) was actually missed, and Chacarita were condemned to relegation.
Pasini stayed the next season up at Chacarita, managing to achieve a second position on the tournament until he was dismissed by Chacarita chairman Héctor “Tore” López to make place for ex-player Carlos Fernando Navarro Montoya.
So what, then?
If you have seen the last video you will recognise that the Argentinian ascenso football has a particular taste for melodrama and Bipolar attitudes. Yes, yes, this sounds harsh, but the sole emotion of the moment can leave any attemptive spectator to grasp the concept. Chacarita’s last penalty, that will save them from relegation, will keep them afloat the Nacional B season. For a moment, Salvador becomes our example and celebrates a scored goal, that wasn’t it, only to lay in despair once he finds that the penalty was missed.
Many Atlanta fans consider the same notion for Pasini: how can he become Chacarita’s manager and be thrilled to direct them if he’s such an Atlanta fan? This has led to angry attitudes by many Atlanta fans that now consider him to be “a traitor” or a “sell out”. They are unforgiving of Pasini’s eagerness to direct Chacarita, letting the concept of him being someone who works for a living fly by, subdue-ing all conducts to fandom and loyalty. This is hard to defend in a time where players and managers leave clubs for a myriad of reasons that have to do more with money than of personal taste.
His acceptance for the Chacarita position gained him a despicable reputation: how could a fan, an idol, turn and work for Chacarita? This kind of behavior cannot be forgiven.
Yet most fans ignore that money nowadays is a relevant and strong factor, and employment is not tied to fandom. Pasini’s a respected manager and was called upon a bigger challenge with Chacarita than what lied ahead for him at Estudiantes, and was nowhere near being Atlanta’s manager yet again.
Is he actually eligible for punishment? We do not know. How can he call himself a fan and do that? Well, it’s just a matter of empathy.
The future will probably tell. At this time of year there has been some rumored talk of Atlanta contracting former Temperley manager Anibal Biggeri should Sebastián Cassano fail to promote Atlanta up to the Nacional B. Truth is known that there is a saying that states that managers sometimes, and particularly in Argentina are sometimes like sharks: they smell blood, and come near (come to see the games). Pasini was once again seen in the Atlanta terraces watching the game against Almagro. This is a particular normal move when a manager stands on Quicksands, although some managers come to see games just for the fun of it.
Was Pasini in the lookout for a job? Or does he make good on his down-graded proclaimed loyalty?
Is it worth it to hold Pasini to his words like if it was an oath?
Shall we see him against soon managing Atlanta? What would your reaction be to it?