Why Marcelo ‘The Doll’ Gallardo’s stock is on such a meteoric rise

10 things you need to know about the River boss who's been praised by Pep Guardiola and is considered a top manager by none other than Lionel Messi

1. He wins a major trophy every 6 months

Since joining River Plate in 2014, Gallardo has won:

  • 2 Copa Libertadores
  • 1 Copa Sudamericana
  • 3 Recopas
  • 2 Copa Argentinas
  • 1 Supercopa Argentina
  • 1 Suruga Bank trophy

That’s 10 trophies in five years with River, plus he won two Uruguayan league titles with Nacional in his 18 months there before taking the River job. River Plate are currently 2-0 up going into the second leg of this year’s Copa Libertadores semi-final and are down to the last four in the Copa Argentina.

2. He can rebuild a side from scratch

Only one player from his Copa Libertadores winning side of 2015, club captain Leonardo Ponzio, was still at River when Gallardo guided them to another title last year.

3. He wins big games

Gallardo's results in finals are outstanding, winning 10 out of the 12 finals he’s taken River Plate to, losing only to Barcelona and Lanús. Plus, his record in knockout Superclásicos is impressive so far, with four wins, two draws and no defeats against Boca Juniors in both continental cup competitions.

"What Gallardo has done with River is incredible, the level of results, giving them consistency every year despite the fact that they lose players...I do not understand why he is not nominated [for Fifa BEST coach in the world]” - Pep Guardiola

4. He's financially sensible and efficient

According to press sources, River Plate have made more money in transfers than they’ve spent over the last five and a half seasons. Shrewd purchases include the Columbian, Juan Fernando Quintero, for under $4m, while the sale of Gonzalo ‘Pity’ Martinez for over $15m saw the player more than triple in value after four years at the club. In 2019, as the rest of the Libertadores went on spending sprees, bringing in the big names like De Rossi, Valencia, and Rafinha, Gallardo asked River for just one player, Chilean Paulo Díaz. His River side haven't missed a beat, even with the rest of the continent seemingly loading up to chase them. 

5. He promotes the next generation

Under his management, 31 players from River Plate’s academy have made their 1st team debut.

6. He's still got it

Gallardo still has a naughty right peg, watch this!

7. Gallardo learned under Marcelo Bielsa

"I had always thought that good teams started with good players who came together and voila, things happened naturally,” Gallardo has admitted. “But listening to Bielsa I realised, when I grew up, that there was something else. With him I discovered the influence that I could have as the coach of a team."

Over half of Gallardo’s 9 year stint in the Argentina national team was under the current Leeds boss’ innovative tutelage. Other notable Argentine managers to cite Marcelo Bielsa as a direct influence include Mauricio Pochettino [Tottenham Hotspur], Jorge Sampaoli [Santos], Diego Simeone [Atletico Madrid], Gerardo Martino [Mexico] and Paraguay boss, Eduardo Berizzo.

8. He's a dynamic and holistic thinker

At River Plate he’s employed neuroscientists and sports psychologists to help his players mentally prepare for games and be able to visualise what to do in certain situations. He is also not shy of surprising the opposition with last minute, tactical changes, like switching from the trusted 4-4-2 to a back-three, which he did against Boca Juniors just before last year’s Libertadores final.

9. His biggest weakness at River has been the league

Despite those two league wins with Nacional, he has none with River, coming 9th, 9th, 2nd, 8th and 4th in the Argentine Superliga over the last 5 seasons. Although part of his remit was to focus on these international competitions, success has had to come at the price of resting top players for league games taking place directly before Copa Libertadores ties.

10. He achieves his aims

4 years ago, River were down 6-2 vs Boca in the battle for Copa Libertadores titles. Now it’s 6-4 and whether or not he claws another one back this year, Gallardo has already written a magnificent chapter in the history of Club Atlético River Plate.