Crespo the coach arrives | The Daily Star
03:11 PM, January 24, 2021 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:14 PM, January 24, 2021

Crespo the coach arrives

Defensa y Justicia's victory in the Copa Sudamericana on Saturday heralds a new name on the trophy and also the arrival of an upcoming coach, whose name is probably better known in the footballing world than the team he leads.

Hernan Crespo has been in charge of the Argentine side just under a year but Saturday's 3-0 win over Lanus in South America's equivalent of the Europa League writes his name in the history books as the first coach to lift the unstoried club to a continental trophy.

Crespo made his name as a prolific goalscorer with River Plate but spent most of his career in Italy, with successful spells at Parma, Lazio, AC Milan and Internazionale.

His coaching career began on the peninsula, with an unremarkable spell at Modena, and was followed by another short and disappointing time at Argentine club Banfield.

But it was at Banfield's neighbours Defensa y Justicia where his coaching career took off.

Crespo inherited a team who made up for their lack of history – they were promoted to Argentina's top tier for the first time in 2014 – with a solid infrastructure and an established playing style.

Previous coaches Ariel Holan and Sebastian Beccacece helped the club punch above their weight with a fast-paced passing game and they kept the club competitive before moving on to bigger clubs.

Crespo has maintained that run and that style.

After getting knocked out the Copa Libertadores in the final minute of their game against eventual finalists Santos, they picked themselves up in the Sudamericana and cruised into the final where they became only the fifth team in Copa Sudamericana history to lift the trophy unbeaten.

His win establishes his name among a select group of Argentine coaches who can expect to catch the eye of teams in Europe's big leagues.

River Plate's Marcelo Gallardo has long been rated the pick of the bunch and Gabriel Heinze, formerly of Manchester United and now coach of Atlanta United, is another who has attracted attention recently, in addition to Holan, Beccacece and Jorge Sampaoli, who is doing well on a limited budget at Brazil's Atletico Mineiro.

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