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FEATURE: Was Martín Lasarte the right choice for Al Ahly?

Martin Lasarte

After much speculation, Uruguay’s Martín Lasarte has become the new head coach, succeeding . Kingfut’s Ahmed Khalil takes an in-depth look at the new manager.

His appointment was announced Sunday afternoon after a meeting with club president Mahmoud El-Khatib, which saw him sign a one-and-a-half-year deal. The 57-year-old will succeed Patrice Carteron, who was sacked after Al Ahly’s CAF Champions League final loss and their elimination from the Arab Club Championship.

Lasarte will take charge of the team after the Reds’ clash with Jimma Aba Jifar in the CAF Champions League, meaning that his first game will be against El-Dakhelya on December 26.

Lasarte is one of the most successful Uruguayan managers, and has vast experience, having been a manager since 1996. His first managerial stint came at the age of 35 with Rampla Juniors, leading them to the second place in the Primera División Clausura, before taking over Rentistas, Atlético Bella Vista, and Emirati side Al Wasl in 2002.

After less than a year in UAE, he returned back to his home country to coach then-second division side River Plate, helping them win promotion and the Uruguayan Segunda División.

His first big job came when he was appointed as the manager of Uruguayan giants Club Nacional, winning back-to-back domestic league titles in 2004 and 2005, however, the club didn’t renew his contract and he was forced to leave. Short stints at Colombian side Millonarios and Danubio FC of Uruguay were not successful, but he then took a big jump and managed Spanish side Real Sociedad. In his first season, he helped the club return to the top flight after an absence of three years and won the 2010 Segunda División. Despite a bright start to the 2010-2011 La Liga campaign, the club struggled at the end of the season and had to wait until the last matchday to secure survival.

Lasarte was relieved of his duties and went on to manage Chilean sides CD Universidad Católica and Club Universidad, winning the Apertura in 2014, and the 2015 Copa Chile and Supercopa with the latter. He returned back to Club Nacional in June 2016 and helped them win the league title, before leaving the club in December 2017.

will be the first-ever South American to coach the Red Devils.

Why was a favorite to take over the Al Ahly job?

The former Real Sociedad manager was favoured ahead of Englishman Steve Bruce, who was close to taking over the Cairo giants, but the club’s board opted for Lasarte.

Steve Bruce was one of the leading candidates to succeed Patrice Carteron as the Cairo Giants’ head coach. Bruce was sacked as Aston Villa head coach in October, where he managed Egypt’s Ahmed Elmohamady, following a slow start to the 2018-19 English Championship season. He narrowly missed out on promotion the season prior. The 57-year-old has worked with several Egyptian players in the past including Ahmed Hossam Mido and he has an overview of how the Egyptian Premier League works.

“Steve Bruce is a great manager and has great coaching abilities but I think taking over Al Ahly now is a big gamble,” Mido told NRJ radio station.

Was Lasarte the best fit?

In my opinion, Lasarte has an impressive CV compared to his competition. I want to say that hiring a coach that is capable of managing Al Ahly’s ambitions, fans, and the crucial competitions that the team participates in is the most important quality. He must be able to bear the players’ and media’s pressure because it’s a very stressful and exhausting task. It will require a lot of evenings to stay up late and figure out everything. I believe Lasarte is the coach that Al Ahly needs at the moment.

Lasarte has a great impact in the lives of many football stars including Antoine Griezmann and Luis Suarez. In an interview after France winning the World Cup, Griezmann was questioned about carrying an Uruguayan flag on his shoulders. He replied by saying “Marín Lasarte is the most important coach that has been in my life and I’m thanking him by doing this.” Lasarte is very experienced in finding new talents and that will be his goal with the Cairo Giants.

On the pitch, he seems like a good fit for Egyptian Premier League football. He’ll motivate his players, organise the defense, and move towards a slightly more aggressive style. He’ll try to gain back the team’s identity of possession football, but he’ll prevent them from becoming too stale, like they were against ES Tunis.

The coaches who place a priority on group dynamics and have a relaxed approach to management tend to succeed at Al Ahly.

It would be a mistake, though, to dismiss Lasarte as merely a good man-manager; he is much more than that and his trophies are evidence of that.

His football is more direct. The transitions are quicker, the pressing is intense, and the attacks are more varied. Martín Lasarte is keen for his teams to have the ball, but also to get it forward as quickly as possible. At times, he even invites the opposition to attack and then take advantage of those spaces. The Uruguayan is less of a purist, but his football is proving to be effective. Martín Lasarte could be a blessing for Al-Ahly.

What do you think about the appointment of Lasarte? Was he the right man for the job, or should it have been someone like Steve Bruce?

 

Since I was a kid, I dreamt of being a sports journalist. My journey began a year ago when I created my first sports news page on Facebook, called "Sports Unlimited News" and from there on my passion for sports journalism grew stronger. Now, here I am a Sports News Reporter and Features Writer at KingFut.com where I will strive to add value and learn as much as I can.

5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. ahmed

    December 23, 2018 at 4:04 AM

    Who the f*** cares? Al Ahly plays in a Mickey Mouse league where they are about the only team with funds and are backed up by about every Football instance in the country. They could hire a guy from the street and still win this thing. Aren’t they like 29 league titles ahead of their closest competitor or something like that?

    I wonder why people even bother with football in this country. Really have to look at yourself in the mirror and make yourself believe some of the biggest lies if you A) watch the Egy PL…B) cheer Al Ahly thinking they are club that wins because they are good and not because they play football in a country where everything is given to them and the other clubs are a combination of unprofessional, too poor, and not in the Koussa circle to win anything.

    Not gonna talk about the ”we have more tittle than AC Milan and Boca” delusion because at this point you have to be on some heavy opioids or straight up be equipped with the IQ level of a Chimp to say that with a straight face

    • Moi

      December 23, 2018 at 2:42 PM

      While you are right about the state of the league and the state of competition in it, I must say that I care about this article, as do quite a few people. While the league is bad, many people (both domestically and internationally) follow Al Ahly. I live in England, yet I follow them. I’ve also met people here (non egyptians) that do too. So there are plenty of people that care (as shown by their instagram account, for example, that has more followers than Spurs do). Plenty of people care, it’s rather snobbish and dismissive of you to say that. I personally follow the club because of their history and because I find their football fun and interesting to watch. Sure, they aren’t the best. But they are interesting and fun to watch, both of which are subjective opinions. I don’t watch football teams because they are “the best”, I watch them because their football is fun (which is a subjective opinion that can’t be a lie). I don’t have to believe any lies to watch and support them. Therefore, to make such blanket comments about fans is absolutely ridiculous. And to make the comments of “who cares” is too. People do care. If you don’t, don’t read it. That would be the intelligent thing to do.

      • ahmed

        December 25, 2018 at 11:59 AM

        While my comments may be harsh and dismissive of the fact that following or liking them (or any team in that league for that matter) it does not make it any different. The fact that Egyptian people have been watching European football for years now yet turn around and not only dismiss all the wrong things with football in Egypt but also ignore the fact that this whole thing is a mascarade of bad taste is the main reason why nothing is moving alongside the fact that the FA is corrupt to the root.

        Take your comment for example. You state Al Ahly’s history as one of the reasons you follow them. This is a personal choice and nobody can take it away from you, but unfortunately, another fact is that this history you speak of is factually ridiculous to anybody that looks at it with the slightest neutrality. I mean we could go in depth about why it’s ”ridiculous” but we all know the main theme here is corruption, lack of any competition due to corruption and not a sign of moving forward towards even a slightly competitive league again because of corruption.

        Fact is this has been going for so long that nobody wants to tackle the problem and say things as they are. Instead, we live in a big lie where we make ourselves believe that Al Ahly is a big club and that Zamalek are somehow a good club too and we have okay football. Granted, being in Africa helps to make the illusion even more realistic, but its no less of a big lie. Al Ahly and Zamalek are getting spanked by Gulf teams we used to laugh at because these teams actually play in leagues that have somehow achieved a decent degree of competitiveness where nobody is handed the title every year through corruption. We went to the WC and got spanked by everybody and we blamed it all on the coaching while the reality is that we’ve just been on an endless descent that is only masked by the fact that we are on a continent where other nations manage to be even worse than us.

        I could go on for hours on why all of this is ridiculous, but my point is: Can’t we just face things for once and focus our energy on exposing our problems and maybe try to solve them instead of writing features that are laughable because they ask questions that don’t even have the premise on which they could be asked? I mean, I sure can ask everybody if the sky is going to be purple next Sunday and it might interest people, but what is the point of the question…unless of course, we make ourselves believe a whole set of ridiculous things to legitimize the idea that maybe the sky could truly turn purple on Sunday.

        • Salih

          December 25, 2018 at 7:36 PM

          Man u seem very knowledgable about the football in egypt and the continent , i want to know from you more about it please

          • Ahmed

            December 26, 2018 at 2:10 AM

            Unless you were being sarcastic then believe me, you don’t need to be an expert or even “very knowledgeable” about Egyptian football to notice that everything is wrong and its corrupt to the root. Watch yourself a season of the Egyptian Premier League. The amount of irregularities and shady things that happen is enough to either make you laugh or cry. Hell just go look at the Egy Pl on Wikipedia and ask yourself if there is another league where teams that are considered to be amongst the strongest in that league and have been playing in “that league” for 104 years and have not managed anything more than 1 title while all the other titles are won by one other team. Doesn’t scream quality and even less fairness or competitiveness

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