Carlos Bianchi, the Viceroy

Today's article is about Carlos Bianchi, a figure who is recognized for his time as a coach, mainly at Boca Juniors. However, his time as a player has been somewhat forgotten as well as his time on the dugout for Velez Sarsfield. In that regard, we bring a brief summary of what has been the successful career of the Viceroy ("Virrey" in Spanish) in both roles.

Boca Juniors arena
Boca Juniors was the main club in Carlos Bianchi's career

Bianchi as a player

Carlos Bianchi was born on April 26, 1949, in Buenos Aires and grew up as a fan of Velez Sarsfield in addition to training as a player in the youth teams of the Liniers club. The Viceroy made his professional debut in Velez at the age of 18 and gradually established himself as the team's top scorer, favored by Omar Wehbe's injury and by key goals like the one that broke goalkeeper Amadeo Carrizo's unbeaten record.

His performances led him to sign for France's Stade de Reims, where he made an immediate impact, becoming the French tournament's top scorer in his first season in Europe. Of the four seasons he was at the club, he was the top scorer in the French league three times and the one he failed to achieve recognition was due to a severe injury that kept him away from the playing fields for several months.

The then young Paris Saint Germain, a club that was recently founded in 1970, opted for him and in his two seasons in Paris, Bianchi was the top scorer in the French tournament. However, his individual success was not accompanied by collective successes since PSG remained in the middle of the table in both seasons.

Bianchi decided to look for a team where he could achieve those objectives and signed for RC Strasbourg, although without much success. Only a year later he would return to Argentina to play for Velez for four more seasons and finally retire at Reims, where he would start his coaching career almost immediately after said retirement.

Bianchi as a manager

Bianchi coached Reims for almost three years in Ligue 2 without achieving promotion, although he caught the attention of Ligue 1 clubs such as Nice who decided to hire him. After a year on the Côte d'Azur, he returned to Paris but this time as sports director of Paris FC, where he stayed between 1991 and 1993.

In that same 1993, he would return to his native country to train Velez Sarsfield, leading the club to, possibly, their most successful period since in that same 1993 he won the local championship (after 25 years without achieving it and being the second in the club's history) that gave them the qualification to the 1994 Copa Libertadores, which they would win after defeating Sao Paulo in the final. That victory, in turn, allowed them to play the Intercontinental Cup against Fabio Capello's AC Milan, whom they would beat 2-0. Then they would win a couple more local titles with the blue and white club until AS Roma hired him.

He was at the Italian club for less than a season because the team had a very notorious irregularity as well as his way of handling the squad that didn't endear him to the players within Roma. Finally, his bad relationship with icons like Giannini or Totti ended up sealing Bianchi's departure from the Roman club. After the 1998 World Cup in France ended, in which the Argentine coach worked as a commentator, the possibility of coaching Boca Juniors came to him, after Daniel Pasarella (first option for the club's leadership) rejected the position.

Boca Juniors

The xeneize club came from a somewhat dark stage in their recent history with just one national title so far in that decade and Bianchi's job was to recover the team by making some relatively radical changes that could restore glory to Boca. Bianchi released important players like Diego Latorre or Claudio Cannigia to give more prominence to the Barros Schelotto-Palermo-Riquelme trio.

That first local tournament that he played as coach of Boca Juniors, Bianchi won it undefeated, breaking a losing streak of 6 years without the club achieving that trophy. It was possible to maintain a large part of the team's base and this allowed it to win a second consecutive local tournament, with a little less brilliance than the previous one, although reaching the record of 40 undefeated games.

Repeating something they had already done with Velez, Bianchi's Boca Juniors won the Copa Libertadores in 2000, to which they qualified thanks to their victories at the local level, beating Palmeiras in the final. In the same way, the continental success allowed them to play the Intercontinental Cup, where Real Madrid was at the very beginning of the Galacticos era.

The cup would be lifted by the Argentine team that, like Velez against AC Milan, was not the favorite but managed to stand solidly against the European team and thanks to the great performance of Riquelme and the two goals from Palermo, they managed to be intercontinental champions. Despite having reached the top of the possible titles at the club level, Bianchi considered repeating the continental success and in 2001 he won the Copa Libertadores again, this time against Cruz Azul on penalties.

After a series of disagreements with the board on aspects of team management and added to a disappointing performance in the local championship and the defeat against Bayern Munich in the 2001 Intercontinental Cup, Bianchi decided not to renew his contract with the xeneize club. In 2003, after enormous pressure from the Boca Juniors fans, the Viceroy returned to the club.

The second parts are not usually good but in this case it was since, with the return of Bianchi, Boca Juniors won the 2003 Copa Libertadores, beating Robinho and Diego's Santos side in the final, the local tournament of that same year and the Intercontinental Cup, beating Ancelotti's AC Milan.

In 2004, he would leave the club again and in 2005 he would sign a contract with Atlético de Madrid, where he would only remain for half a season due to poor results and a series of controversial statements that ended up breaking his relationship with the board of directors and the red and white fans.

Bianchi would return to Boca in 2009 as Football Director, for about a year, and then in 2013, he would do so again as xeneize coach, although this third stint would not be accompanied by titles. Thus ended Bianchi's career as a coach that, despite not having managed to establish himself in Europe like other Argentine managers such as Simeone or Pochettino, was responsible for the best historical periods of Boca Juniors and Velez Sarsfield.
Kelvin Tingling knows most things about football and also likes to write about it. Kelvin lives in Buenos Aires and his favorite team is Boca Juniors.