After a series of unsuccessful matches in the 2018 World Cup Qualifier, frustration has taken over the national team, and the locker room atmosphere has turned toxic. The manager and the players have all taken a stance on what’s the main reason things aren’t working out, in a finger-pointing contest of sorts. In the midst of this shitstorm, Noel “Chita” Sanvicente has vowed not to quit, the Venezuelan Football Federation (FVF) gave a robust espaldarazo for the manager. That was too much for center-back Fernando Amorebieta, who handed in his resignation to la Vinotinto per a one-paragraph letter that went viral on social media.
Amorebieta gave no detailed reason as to why he quit, only a brief statement saying he’ll be back once the worst has passed. Granted, he also sent a letter to fans and the public in general, but the gist is the same, only excusing himself and awkwardly pledging loyalty to the cause (and the former national trainer, might we add).
Though legally he cannot just quit a national team, it really makes no sense to call him up for the next matches knowing how little commitment he will show. Amorebieta chose to exclude himself from a process he does not feel a part of, and that is something worth rescuing. What’s frightening is the chatter amongst sports journalists, rumoring he won’t be the only one either quitting or being booted from la Vinotinto. Something is broken and needs urgent fixing.
Sanvicente and the board of directors of the FVF are the losers here. Chita is a decent coach, but a great manager he is not. His brash, take-bullshit-from-no-one attitude is what held up his arrival to the post in the first place, and is the main reason why he might lose it.
Now, the problem isn’t necessarily that he needs an attitude adjustment (although it wouldn’t hurt to bajarle dos), it’s more a matter of having under his tutelage players that got so used to being untouchable under the previous head coach, César Farías, that their egos have taken over, not just themselves but also Venezuelan football.
If we’re honest, players like Salomón Rondón, Oswaldo Vizcarrondo, and Luis Manuel Seijas deserve to be benched: their workrate has been abominable and at times you can just tell their head is elsewhere by watching them play. Say that to them and you’ll most likely end up waking up God knows where after being beat up by a bodyguard and ruleteado for a while.
It seems rather ironic nowadays that Chita’s first words as national coach were a call to strength through unity, when his own system is collapsing around him. He was beloved and seen as a messiah of sorts that would finally fulfill the Venezuelan dream of being one of those 32 teams that will go to Russia in some years time.
What’s left is a manager in the need to reshuffle his deck of cards just enough to ensure things begin proceeding smoother. The main problem with taking a step towards this direction: the most pissed off players are by far the most decent we have, so losing them will be a huge blow to what la Vinotinto is capable of gathering for the big matches. Then again, the current national manager isn’t known for being coy or walking on eggshells when his team’s talent comes into question. When he led Zamora to two national titles, he managed to do it with a rather modest squad. Winning the Venezuelan league and qualifying for the World Cup are two entirely different kettles of fish, granted, but he’s not used to giving in an inch of power for the sake of susceptible footballer egos.
Everybody is to blame, as they all are part of the same team. The pushing and shoving is almost as worrying as the displays put on the pitch. It’s Chita’s turn to move, and some players are just praying he won’t pull out the chopping board. But at the same time, if it were to happen, the team could be set ablaze.Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.