Almeyda aiming to guide River back to top

Having been part of the club’s relegation, new manager Matias Almeyda wants to return River Plate to the Argentinean Primera Division.Almeyda was handed the role on June 28 as a replacement for Juan Jose Lopez, who had resigned in the wake of River’s relegation.

Three days before his appointment, Almeyda, 37, had started the first leg of the aggregate loss to Belgrano that sent River to Nacional B for the first time in their 110-year existence.

The playoff loss sparked chaotic scenes at River’s Monumental, with incensed fans damaging the stadium and more than 70 people needing hospitalisation.

Guiding the club – where he began and finished his 20-year career – back to the top-flight is Almeyda’s first goal.

“I am convinced we can turn things around and I am looking forward to the prospect of leading River back into the top flight,” the former Argentina midfielder said.

“I am new to the job and only time will tell if I am able to transmit my belief to the players.”

“I want a team that is strong, fast and combative, but I also want a team that plays football, because in recent times River have struggled to play good football.”

Almeyda has already begun the rebuilding, enticing former duo Alejandro Dominguez and Fernando Cavenaghi back to the club.

With attacking midfielder Erik Lamela having been sold to Serie A club Roma and Diego Buonanotte departing for Malaga in La Liga, the two signings will bolster Almeyda’s attacking options.

Almeyda knows the challenges that stretch before him, with River’s financial concerns – at a reported debt of 33 million pounds – hardly helped by the drop in divisions.

But he believes the timing is right for the step into management.

“I am happy to be the coach of River,” he said.

“I think as a player I was suffering. I played my last games with a fracture in a rib and a pulled abductor, and once you start to have these kinds of problems I think that’s it.”

“As a player I think I’d given my all. I couldn’t give anymore and today what I want has left the player (in me) behind.