Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Colombia get trigger-happy

He'd only been in the job for four months, taking over from the controversial Hernán Darío Gómez, but Colombia have already offed Leonel Alvarez after just three World Cup qualifiers.

Results weren't that bad as they went to La Paz and won, but this was followed up by two home games in Baranquilla where they were held 1-1 by new CONMEBalls favourites Venezuela and beaten by Argentina despite having much of the game. The key thing about those home games was that they were played without Colombia's undoubted star, Radamel Falcao, who was injured. If teams are going to be judged by what they do in games under enforced stunt conditions, then pretty much every football manager will be taking a long, hard look over their shoulder today after this.

Fundamentally, however, Alvarez's card was marked from the outset. After Gómez was dismissed - and he had to be, let's face facts here - Alvarez was anything but first choice. They wanted Gerardo Martino but were turned down. They had a look around and there was Alvarez, smiling gently and cupping his magnificent curly mullet. Martino will undoubtedly be first pick now.

What this episode does not mean is that Alvarez is incapable. Maybe he - like Carlos Quieroz, to pick a random example - will always be an understudy, destined never to make the top grade, but while there were grumblings about not going for the jugular against Argentina, in a few short games, there's been enough to suggest Alvarez has enough about him to go on and make something of himself.

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