Ex-Lanús manager Jorge Almirón formally assumed his post as the new head coach of Boca Juniors on Monday on a mission to revive a legendary team mired in crisis.
The Xeneize are way off the pace in the 2023 Liga de Fútbol Profesional and are almost out of the title race, trailing their arch-rivals River Plate by 10 points. They face crunch Copa Libertadores matches in the coming weeks.
"It's a dream as a coach to be here. I hope the players recover because they are the ones who transmit what we want," Almirón said during a press conference at La Bombonera, Boca's stadium, as he was introduced by club president Jorge Ameal.
"I think I'm in a great moment and I'm ready for it. It was a very strong personal desire to come," added Almirón.
Hours earlier the club had confirmed the appointment via Twitter, writing simply: "Welcome home."
Almirón, 51, took his first training session on Monday and replaces Hugo Ibarra as coach, who was sacked due to poor results and performances.
Back to Boca
Almirón became the frontrunner for the position after former Argentina and Mexico coach Gerardo 'Tata' Martino turned down an approach by club vice-president and head of football, Xeneize idol Juan Roman Riquelme.
Almirón's managerial career began at Mexico's Dorados de Sinaloa in 2008, and he landed in Argentina at the helm of Defensa y Justicia the following year.
He has gone on to coach Tiburones, Correcaminos and Tijuana (all in Mexico), Godoy Cruz, Independiente, Lanús and San Lorenzo (in Argentina), Atlético Nacional (Colombia), Al Shabab (Saudi Arabia) and Elche (Spain).
His most successful spell as coach came with Lanús, with whom he won the championship, the Copa Bicentennial and the SuperCopa Argentina. He took the Granate team to the final of the Copa Libertadores 2017, which they lost to Grêmio of Porto Alegre.
Almirón's contract, however, will only run for a year and has clauses that allow the club to terminate the agreement in December if necessary (when club elections are due to take place).
Almirón watched Boca's last match – a 2-1 defeat to Colón – on Sunday night at La Bombonera. It was a disappointing performance by the home side, who were facing opponents who sat bottom of the table prior to the match and had not won in nine matches.
"I'm excited, I see a great predisposition, there are great players. There is not much time, we have to turn the page, recover from last night [Sunday]. I'm grateful for this opportunity and to Román [Riquelme], who was the direct contact," said the DT on Monday.
Almirón will have to get his players firing and on form, given the poor run of results under Ibarra and the lack of consistency shown by the side.
"I've met the players, I went into the stadium and there were fans there, it's exciting, to see the unconditional support of the fans. They expect this to improve, we're going to make it better," declared the new coach.