Aventuras Américas | Part 3 | Puerto Montt #2: Hair-Brained Tactics

After 12 games in football management, Colombian / Brazilian manager Robinho Lazaró had enjoyed a solid yet unspectacular introduction to life in the Chilean second tier. But he now faced a huge task to rebuild a Deportes Puerto Montt squad that was about to get decimated in the summer of 2021.

Robinho Lazaró had settled into Puerto Montt very nicely, largely thanks to the warm welcome he’d received from President German Mayorga. However, that all changed as election season saw the big boss decide against a second term and was replaced by Angelo Aravena. The new manager tried to convince his new boss to send him on his first-ever coaching course, which you’d think would be fair enough for an actual football manager. But the President said he’d let Lazaró go on a course – if he promised not to overwork his coaches at training. Which was just really weird.

As the end of December rolled around, 21 Puerto Montt players left the club on free transfers! They also received a club-record sale of £41,000 for 31-year-old attacking midfielder Ignacio Lemme. That left Lazaró with 12 first-team players, four of which were teenagers, as the transfer window opened.

Lazaró’s very first signing as a manager was, unsurprisingly given the shocking finances, a free transfer. 22-year-old Paraguayan centre-back Juan Ángel Vera immediately become the best prospect at the club. He was swiftly joined by Uruguayan midfielder Nicolás Queiroz then, as the transfer window opened, five more free transfers, including exciting 16-year-old midfield prospect Jorge Alcarcón, less exciting 40-year-old holding midfielder Gonzalo Villagra, who began his playing career in 2000!, and left-back Camilo Saldana.

The ranks were further strengthened with loan deals for midfielder Yeiko Cartagena, goalkeeper Luciano Guarracino, strikers Joaquín Aguero and Esteban Moreira from top-tier side O’Higgins and midfielder Sebastián Silva.

Despite the new season not starting until July, the players were back in training in January. Unfortunately, the spare time got to Robinho Lazaró’s head and the newbie football manager suddenly got ideas above his station and thought he was Pep Guardiola. The Colombian spent far too much time in Rukaffee Cafeteria (gracias TripAdvisor) scribbling up hair-brained tactics on his notepad. And he came up with some made ones. Judge for yourself below, but he was favouring the first one because the Chilean second division is definitely the best place to trial an Enganche…

First full season finally begins

The media weren’t overly optimistic for Robinho Lazaró’s side, predicting them to finish 14th out of 16 sides ranking them at 50/1 to win the Campeonato Juegaenlinea.com. The favorites for the league are Coquimbo Unido, followed by Rangers de Talca, recently relegated Santiago Wanderers, Cobreloa and Deportes Melipilla.

Deportes Puerto Montt’s first full season under Robinho Lazaró’s stewardship began after a near-five month break! It began at home to recently relegated Deportes Melipilla and they got the perfect start through striker Arnaldo Castillo, who was at the club last season but didn’t get a look-in. Debutant Villagra then struck a beauty and centre-back Flavio Rojas added a third after the break to get the new formation off to a great start. The game saw Villagra become the club’s all-time oldest player and goalscorer aged 40 years 197 days.

Midfielder Eduardo Vilches got two assists in the season opener. And he was at it again as laid on another for Castillo to open the scoring at Deportes Megallenes then scored a free-kick to restore the lead before Castillo doubled his tally for another 3-1 win. The 24-year-old striker already has more goals in two games this season than he managed in 18 last season!

The side was suddenly exhausted and lost 2-0 at San Luis de Quillota. But they were excellent as they bounced back to win 2-1 at home to San Marcos de Arica thanks to winger Nicolás Gauna’s first of the season and enganche Cartagena’s first for the club. They were then really unlucky to lose 1-0 at early leaders Rangers de Talca. But they took the performance into a brilliant 3-0 win over fourth-place Deportes Santa Cruz led by a Gauna brace. Even more impressively, another Gauna goal earned them a draw at leaders Santiago Morning!

The unbeaten home start disappeared with a bang as they lost 3-0 to Unión San Felipe. But los chicos responded in style on Lazaró’s 38th birthday to thump Deportes Copiapó 3-0 through Cartagena, Gauna and Castillo – in which 17-year-old homegrown goalkeeper Felipe Aguila played an 8.0 and kept his first career clean sheet. But the wheels fell off with two 2-0 away defeats, including at the title favourites, and a home draw with Deportes Iquique, which dropped Puerto Montt down into mid-table.

Becoming a real Football Manager

A big moment in Robinho Lazaró’s progression towards becoming a real Football Manager at the end of June 2022. That saw him collect his very first coaching badge, the National C Licence, having studied towards it for four months.

That arrived during a strange little three-week break midway (but not quite halfway) through the season. The hiatus ended with a battle of the greens in a trip to Santiago Wanderers, which they deservedly lost 1-0.

Puerto Montt were suddenly in a five-game winless streak, but a good chance to arrest that came at home to bottom side Cobreloa. And they delivered with two goals in the first six minutes from Gauna and new Mexican arrival Erick Espinosa. And that’s how it stayed with Villagra, who just announced his retirement at the end of the season, earning player of the match. However, they then somehow lost another away match 2-0 at AC Barnechea, despite having 28 shots to seven!

That took Puerto Montt to the halfway of their first full season under Lazaró sitting in eighth position, with 20 points from 15 games. Interestingly, they’d only lost one of seven home games but only won one and lost six of their eight home games and only scored four away goals. So it’s easy to see where the issue lies!

Gauna leads the club ranks with seven goals in 16 games, followed by Castillo with five then Cartagena and Rojas with two apiece. While Vilches has the most assists with just four (two of which were in the season opener) and the best average rating of 7.25.

Join us next time as Robinho Lazaró moves into the second half of his first full season as a football manager with Deportes Puerto Montt!

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