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1940: Plattkó and his experience in Argentina

Author: Isaque Argolo | Creation Date: 2022-07-22 11:29:28

Data providers: Isaque Argolo.
Ferenc Plattkó | 03/07/1940, Buenos Aires.

When I came here, I thought that after three months of operation, I would be able to send a nice, upbeat report. Unfortunately, I can only write the worst and I think it is my duty to report this to the Hungarian sports people. THE COACHES
Perhaps nowhere in the world are coaches in such a bad situation as here. They change coaches with amazing speed. If the team loses two or three times, the public demand a new coach and the management has to meet the public's demand, otherwise the public will demand a new management, so the team may end up with two or three or four coaches. THE MEMBERS
River Plate, my association, currently has 20.000 members who give financially to the association every month. Most of them not only pay the high membership fees, but also sacrifice beyond that on the altar of sport.
However, there is not much to thank them for, because they all want to have a say in the internal affairs of the club, and most of the time they do.
Groups of members have emerged. Each group has a favourite player and these groups are constantly talking about the composition. Favourite players can't even be left out of the team if they happen to be in lousy form. The home team may not even realise how difficult it is to put a team together here. If the favourite is left out, the members are not only calling for the head of the coach but also the head of the president.
They have quite a few protests every week because of players not being drafted.
In such cases, the end usually is that the coach resigns and the sports committee resigns. There is no other way for the sports committee, otherwise the stones will be thrown.
This cannot be changed. At least one or two people cannot change this situation. The whole public is spoilt. The problem is not just that the public here is made up of small people, uneducated elements, but rather that their temperament drives the spectators towards scandal.
On 16 June, for example, there was the Boca Juniors-Huracán match. A scandal broke out that disgusted me. One 23-year-old fan stabbed another fan five times, and the other died in hospital three days later.
I often think of the beautiful, peaceful sporting life in Europe. MATCH OFFICIALS
Discipline! That word is not known here. I think that if I want to see my old father again, I'll have to say goodbye soon.
The best example of discipline is that the referees here hardly dare to officiate any matches anymore. Now the federation has asked the English for five referees, who would of course work here on a professional basis.
Most recently, the name of Braun from Vienna has come up. The little Viennese, who is well known in our country, has long since disappeared, having emigrated from the former Austria. Here they know that he was once a good and, above all, forceful referee and now they want to call him up to Argentina. They want to send him two first-class boat tickets (one for his wife) and offer him a monthly salary of 500 pesos.
They would welcome other European referees of good repute, especially as the referees here are not familiar with the advantage rule and do not know how to play with vigour.
Whoever comes here as a referee, if you want to be a success, you'd better fasten your trousers. MONTEVIDEO
In mid-June, I was in Montevideo with my team. From Buenos Aires you can travel to Montevideo by boat. The trip is pleasant at night and takes eight hours. The Uruguayans have two matches scheduled for one programme: River Plate-Peñarol, Boca Juniors-Nacional.
The latter was of particular interest because it was the meeting between the two champions. (The Uruguayan championship final was played before that: Nacional-Peñarol 4:2.)
The big show was on the 19th. It was on. River Plate, my team, played Peñarol first, but the match had to be stopped 17 minutes early because of the heavy rain. Nevertheless, my team won the game, 5:3.
Because of the rain, the other match could not take place, it was postponed to the next day.
Ferenc Sas, the former Hungária right winger, asked me not to go home but to watch the next day's match, just for his sake. The managers had promised him that he could play one half.
I was curious to see how Sas would do, especially as he is not often played in the first team. He wasn't played in Montevideo either. In fact, even if he did, his teammates would be burned because he is a stranger and cannot do what he would otherwise be able to do. I RESIGN
Until 25 June, I was in charge of the first team training at my club, and Cesarini, the former Italian national team player, was in charge of the junior team. However, various events put me off — see below — and I asked Cesarini to swap.
I was very upset about the lack of order and discipline. The President agreed with me, but the three-member sports committee resigned. Another one came in its place. Soon a gentleman left this committee. And that was because he was adamant that the centre-forward should be dropped from the team. He expressed his opinion and listed the mistakes in front of the players and then immediately handed in his resignation.
I'm also really into it. Not only because of the bad performance, but also because of a lot of other things that happened:
1. Players start fighting immediately after the match and are too angry to control themselves, so managers usually have to intervene to prevent a fight. 2. They don't want to know about a new system. They play their old, old system. The two full-backs, for example, are always camped in front of the goal and only intervene when the striker gets there. They have no idea about the modern system and it is not advisable to talk about some English system in front of proud and conceited players. These players look down on European players and claim that they would beat the English even in England. But with these slippers (I wrote about this the other day), they could not even wobble on wet or muddy grass in England. 3. There is no discipline and the coach cannot achieve his goal. The players are in love with the ball, they see the ball all the time and I explained to them in vain that one of them should always hold a man and not look at the ball so much. I explained in vain. These players are very stubborn and I realised quite quickly that the old stars cannot be made to understand, they cannot be made to achieve results. The young players, on the other hand, are so inexperienced that you can't play a whole season with them. 4. We played our first league game against Independiente, last year's and the year before last year's champions. In that match, Filipp, my left-back, suffered a serious injury in the first half. We took him to the military hospital on a stretcher (the boy is 21 years old and is now serving his military year). The doctors diagnosed him with a fractured ankle bone. The following Sunday, my left half-back suffered a fractured ankle, and the third Sunday our left winger was injured to the point that he would not play for many weeks. The management called Cuello home from Brazil because of the injuries. Cuello used to be a prominent left back in the team. But he is now over 30. He was put into the team without my asking and of course he was relegated. At home in Hungary, 30 years is still a good age to play, but not here. Here, people start life earlier, live earlier and get used up earlier. 30 years here is the equivalent of 36 to 38 years at home. 5. When I became coach of River Plate, I developed a great training programme. I had heard that the boys liked to stay up all night, so I decided to train in the morning. In the morning, so the players wouldn't feel like staying up late. So I held training sessions three times a week in the morning. Those who wanted to could train in the afternoon. But the players soon realised why this was and asked the managers to make the training sessions in the afternoon. I explained the psychological reasons for my system to the managers, but the training sessions were moved to the afternoon. From then on we had three afternoon training sessions a week. But even that was too much for the players. They appeared before the managers again and asked for only two training sessions a week! This request was granted. Here, the players do everything as they please... If they don't get their way, they go on strike! 6. The players do not respect the coach. Coaches, on the other hand, are afraid of their job and do everything the players want. The players thought they could do what they wanted with me. They were wrong. I resigned instead. 7. Moreno, the team's national team player, was in bad form at the beginning of the season and I dropped him from the team. Last year's team members, Moreno's mates, went on strike. Unacceptable conditions.
That's how I realised it was better to take on the youngsters. I asked for it myself, I told the managers everything and now I'm leading the youth team with the same salary as I did the first team. At the beginning, there was also a problem with the juniors. They weren't punctual in training, criticised their teammates and so on... But now I've put things right and the youngsters are willing to put in a good word. I can even play a sensible system with them. At least my work has a purpose and I am satisfied with that.
No sooner had they heard that I was in charge of the youth training than I received offers from several sides. I couldn't accept any of them, because here, if a coach wants to leave his club before the end of his contract, he has to pay a ransom. And quite a considerable amount. I was not prepared to do that, having seen that the situation in other clubs was no better, and I saw no point in changing clubs, but rather working with young people, so at least I could enjoy my job. WHO WILL WIN THE CHAMPIONSHIP?
I think Boca Juniors will be the champions. There's no sure thing here, because the first place will lose to the last place, but I see Boca as the winner. Boca Juniors have the best reserve team and they also have a very special pitch. The surface is very soft and weak, which is always a source of confusion for foreign teams, but the home team knows the pitch very well. The ground is so soft, for example, that a goalkeeper who wants to kick the ball cannot do so, because the ball hardly bounces on the soft ground. OTHER TOPICS
There is still real peace in this country and there is enough money. For example, the world-famous conductor Arturo Toscmini has just been here with his orchestra. For eight nights he received $200.000.
I myself was present at one of the concerts, and I experienced the same thing as on the football pitch: the incompetence of the audience. We are now waiting for Martina Eggerth. She should arrive on the fifth and will also be performing at the Colonopera.