The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION
Brazilian club Palmeiras struggling after taking a chance on Argentine coach Gareca
SAO PAULO - Brazilian club Palmeiras made a rare move when it hired an Argentine coach earlier this year, and the results have not been good.
Since the arrival of Ricardo Gareca, Palmeiras hasn't won a single match in the Brazilian league, and its latest defeat on Wednesday left the club in last place in the 20-team standings.
Gareca was hired in May but only made his official debut after the World Cup break. Since then, Palmeiras lost six matches and drew one in the league.
Most Brazilian coaches would be on the brink of getting fired after similar results. But Palmeiras officials and even fans remain behind the Argentine, who says that with a little more time he can put the team back on track.
"I'm not going to quit," Gareca said after the team's 2-1 loss to Sport on Wednesday in Recife. "We have to keep working, there is still time to change this situation. I want to stay until the end."
Although Brazil and Argentina are longtime football rivals, that didn't keep the Brazilian club from taking a chance on the coach who thrived with Velez Sarsfield in Argentina, winning four titles.
Gareca is the first Argentine coach to be hired by a top Brazilian club since Daniel Passarela signed with Corinthians in 2005, where he stayed only four months before being fired. Few teams have tried other foreign coaches, and none with successful results. Internacional hired Uruguayan Jorge Fossatti in 2010, and Atletico Paranaense briefly experimented with Spaniard Miguel Angel Portugal earlier this season.
Gareca has won only three matches with Palmeiras so far, two in the Brazilian Cup and a friendly against Fiorentina to help celebrate the team's centennial.
The Brazilian club with the most national titles, Palmeiras is winless in 10 league matches and has lost three straight to remain with 14 points after 15 rounds. The team is trying to avoid its second consecutive relegation, and third in its 100-year history. It played in the second division in 2003 and in 2013.
Gareca said it's up to club directors to decide whether he will stay in command despite the poor results. Club president Paulo Nobre has said from the beginning that the coach would need time to adjust to Brazilian football.
Fans have been loudly protesting against Nobre, accusing him of signing poor players, but have been mostly supportive of Gareca.
The coach has asked Palmeiras to sign several Argentine players, including former Boca Juniors striker Pablo Mouche and Velez Sarsfield midfielder Agustin Allione.
Gareca has a contract with Palmeiras until June 2015. The team is expected to inaugurate its new 45,000-capacity arena in Sao Paulo in the next few weeks.
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