EL DÍA QUE APAGÓ LA LUZ

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Antes de sostener que ya no tenía “la energía necesaria para absorber las variadas tareas que demanda la Selección” y mostrarse “ciento por ciento convencido” con su decisión, Marcelo Bielsa había tomado el pincel y trazado un cuadro distinto. Desde su discurso honesto y la propuesta de ir a más en cada partido. Había llegado en septiembre de 1998, con miradas de incógnitas en su periferia pese a la recomendación de José Pekerman. Y el 14 de septiembre de 2004, se marchó en una determinación sorpresiva. Su obra quedó inconclusa, pero los recursos elegidos perforaron la matriz. Dejaron lo previsible lejos de la paleta de colores y buscaron retratar la tela con perfección. Escaparon a la intrascendencia. De principio a fin.
“Ese tipo es parco, férreo, neutro, bravo, solo. Con un par de palabras se refiere a lo esencial, pero sabe que necesita de todas para hacerlo bien”. Así lo describió su hermano Rafael, en el libro Lo suficientemente loco. Y desde esa definición, el técnico encendió los faros de la sala, convenció a los futbolistas y diseñó su ciclo. Más allá de las turbulencias con José Luis Calderón y Chelo Delgado, su estilo captó y potenció a una generación de jugadores. Aquella que se había estrenado en la Selección con Passarella y dio el salto de calidad en sus tiempos de verticalidad ofensiva. “Fue el que supo hacerme competir más cerca de mi mejor versión”, destacó Roberto Ayala, nombre de peso y ganador de la medalla dorada en los Juegos de Atenas. Y en esa línea, sostuvo Javier Zanetti: “Sus trabajos de campo eran increíbles, prácticamente replicaban lo que luego ocurría en los partidos. Además, es un gran motivador, algo que tal vez no todos se imaginen. Y tiene una nobleza a prueba de todo. Se hacía querer por el grupo desde la lejanía, no necesitaba estar pasándote el brazo por el hombro para que uno confiara ciegamente en él”.
De ahí se explica el apoyo del plantel argentino, luego de la insoportable frustración del ciclo: el adiós en la primera fase del Mundial 2002. “Miren muchachos, sólo quiero agradecerles por el esfuerzo en todo este tiempo. Tienen que estar tranquilos en su conciencia porque eso es propio de hombres nobles y ustedes lo son. El fútbol tiene estas páginas tristes y es desobediente con los merecimientos. A veces ocurre que sigue adelante el que hizo menos y se queda en el camino el que más buscó. Nosotros dejamos todo para continuar, pero no pudo ser”. Devastado por la eliminación, Bielsa dejó ese mensaje a los jugadores. Quiso seguir, pero fue imposible. El guión, entonces, quedó a cargo de Germán Burgos. “Marcelo se sentó e intentó hablar, pero después de unas palabras se quebró. Fui a abrazarlo y les dije a los chicos que hicieran lo mismo, porque era un entrenador maravilloso”, recordó el Mono, arquero suplente de aquel equipo, en el libro escrito por Román Iutcht sobre la vida del técnico rosarino.
Se hacía querer por el grupo desde la lejanía, no necesitaba estar pasándote el brazo por el hombro para que uno confiara ciegamente en él”, destacó Pupi Zanetti. “Fue el que supo hacerme competir más cerca de mi mejor versión”, aseguró Roberto Ayala.
Su saga de seis años en la Selección dejó relatos que ni siquiera logra esconder un liquid paper. Puede ser por la satisfacción o el dolor. Al golpe de la rápida despedida en Corea-Japón se sumó, dos años después, la derrota por penales contra Brasil en la final de la Copa América. Y en el lado goce, resaltaron la medalla dorada en los Juegos de Atenas, el triunfo contra el Scratch por las Eliminatorias, el ticket a la Copa del Mundo comprada en la altura de Quito, la victoria de alto vuelo ante Italia en el Olímpico de Roma y un ADN ofensivo inalterable. En su libreta, Bielsa redactó otro grato importante, ese que cotizó arriba de todos en su vida futbolera. “Tuve la suerte de que me renovaran el contrato en la Selección después del Mundial 2002. Es el mayor éxito de mi carrera deportiva, un reconocimiento en el fracaso”, sentenció en una conferencia de prensa inolvidable, que duró más de tres horas y fue la apertura de la etapa post Corea-Japón.
Hubo una base de nombres que identificó cada momento de su ciclo. Zanetti, Ayala, Walter Samuel, Sorin, Simeone, Kily González, Verón, Burrito Ortega, Crespo y Batistuta formaron parte de la tripulación hasta el Lejano Oriente. Algunos de ellos continuaron entre los titulares del seleccionado, pero el DT diseñó, poco a poco, una renovación del plantel. Así les dio espacio a Heinze, Lucho González, Mascherano, D’Alessandro, Rosales, Chelito Delgado y Tevez. El equipo tomó temperaturas en las Eliminatorias para Alemania 2006, con el protagonismo y el estilo ofensivo de siempre, a los que le sumó algo de pausa. Y al cabo, llegó a su punto de cocción en la Copa América de Perú y los Juegos de Atenas. El DT celebró la medalla dorada, pero no se corrió de su mesura legendaria. “Quiero recordar a los jugadores del Mundial 2002. Tengo una gran sensación de injusticia por el trato que recibió ese equipo. Fue un gran conjunto que obtuvo menos de lo que mereció. Sé que es difícil, pero ojalá sientan que este buen momento también les pertenece. En lo personal, si me preguntan por el futuro, el éxito no me inmuniza”.
Esa frase, sin sudas, simbolizó su postura frente a un sector de la prensa. Aquel que, en un principio, criticó su decisión de expresar en conferencia y descartar las entrevistas exclusivas. Y después del Mundial, le apuntó por el fracaso del resultado, lejos de analizar el camino recorrido por el DT desde 1998. Al que gana, todo. Al que pierde, nada. Ese era el mensaje que llegaba desde varios medios. Bielsa lo rechazó con palabras enfáticas y argumentos notables. “Un entrenador no es mejor por sus resultados ni por su estilo, modelo o identidad. Lo que tiene valor es la hondura del proyecto, los argumentos que lo sostienen, el desarrollo de la idea. No hay que juzgar la idea, sino el sustento. Yo puedo valorar proyectos antagónicos. Lo que nunca se puede hacer es sustituir las convicciones”, respondió alguna vez.
La última vez de Bielsa en el banco de la Selección fue el 5 de septiembre de 2004, en el triunfo contra Perú 3 a 1. El festejo en el vestuario proyectaba su ciclo hacia la Copa del Mundo en Alemania. Nada presagiaba su salida. “Estaba desbordante ese día, más que cuando ganamos los Juegos Olímpicos. Saltaba y gritaba. Uno creía que era el comienzo de algo y no el final”, admitió Kily González. Nueve días después de ese triunfo, el Loco movió todas las fichas de manera sorpresiva y anunció su adiós. Dejaba un currículum de 54 triunfos, 18 empates y 11 derrotas, con el 65 % de los puntos disputados, y un camino para valorar en cada uno de los seis años. Sin la máscara de hierro ante la prensa, se permitió una ocurrencia extraña en su vida. “Si necesita un título, ponga así: ‘Grave enfermedad le quita energías al técnico de la Selección’. Con esa frase, yo compraría el diario seguro”, le propuso a un periodista. Entonces, dijo basta en la conferencia.
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90 comentarios

  1. Buenisima nota, se olvido de aclarar que en la conferencia de despedida cito a una hora y empezó dos horas después porque se había ido a correr.

  2. Y despúés lo convencieron en Chile y se mandó tremenda eliminatoria a Sudáfrica con la selección chilena. Ahí recomenzó todo de nuevo.

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