Passarella returns to River Plate

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> Daniel Alberto Passarella will return as manager of River Plate, replacing Reinaldo 'Mustard' Merlo who quit citing a lack of support.

Updated: February 25, 2007 11:39 IST
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Buenos Aires:

Daniel Alberto Passarella will return as manager of River Plate, replacing Reinaldo 'Mustard' Merlo who quit citing a lack of support from his players and the team's directors. "I am returning to the institution that gave me everything in my sports career, and I hope I can fulfill the demands that present themselves," Passarella said. "Passarella generously took on the responsibility of directing the team. We have hired a first-line coach," River Plate Board President Jose Maria Aguilar said. Passarella returns after a 12-year absence at the helm of the club, and said he would have Alejandro Sabella and Hector Pitarch as his field assistants. The 52-year-old player was known as 'The Kaiser', and was one of the best defenders in the history of Argentine soccer, debuting as a River Plate player in 1974. His last game was against Boca Juniors in July 1989, before he went on to coach River Plate until 1993, leading the team to three championships during his tenure. He coached Argentina's national squad from 1994 until 1998, and managed several Mexican club teams as well as Uruguay's national squad and Brazil's Corinthians. Sour relationship Merlo confirmed that he will resign after River Plate captain Marcelo Gallardo told local media that "90 percent of the roster disagrees with (Merlo's) management." The 32-time league champion went winless in its final four matches and finished sixth in the Apertura championship, which ended last month, 12 points behind title winner and crosstown rival Boca Juniors. Merlo said he sought to rebuild the squad with four new players, but the club only authorised the signing of one of them. River Plate hired Merlo, a former midfielder, on a one-year contract in August to replace Leonardo Astrada, who also quit. Merlo played at River in the 1980s and briefly coached there in 1989. Merlo's relationship with his players and club directors soured after recent defeats to Boca Juniors. (AP)

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