To Be King
22 June 2012
Club Atlético San Lorenzo de Almagro
Dear Viggo, Sunday was Father's Day here. The night before I was in bed reading, and Guadalupe asked me what I was going to do on Sunday, whether we would eat at home or were we going to my old man´s. Then, like an epiphany the words that your character says at the end of Cronenberg´s Russian film came to me: "How can I be king if the king is still alive?" [trans. note: "How can I become king if the king is still in place?"]
© Focus Features.
I think that at one time I told you that this text had seemed very strange to me in that context in the film. Like a Shakespearean verse inserted in a private moment when they had just rescued the baby. But that sentence always stayed, pattering, on my mind. And this Saturday night it became lethal, came to life: how am I going to celebrate Father´s day as a father when my father is still alive. That moved me to tears. So I went to my dad´s and we had lunch and watched the match together and, as you´ll know, we ended up devastated. My friend, I love you very much and I hope you are having a ball wherever you are. Everything seems to point out that San Lorenzo cannot be saved, not even if Phil Spector manages it and puts up his wall of sound. Big hug.
© Phil Spector Records/Legacy.
With some delay I congratulate you too, daddy. I hope you are well, that the two cuervo kings, your dad and you, hold on. Last Sunday I was with my son in the USA. He made a mistake and we toasted Father´s Day that afternoon. Me, I had no idea. Yesterday I returned to Spain, and in the evening Henry called me to congratulate me and to apologise for having congratulated me on the wrong day. I told him I prefer it that way, of course, being together to celebrate our eternal bond. Afterwards I phoned my brothers and father to congratulate them. My son´s phone call made me very happy, especially because I was carrying the weight of our bad results against Tigre and Independiente. In the match against Tigre we played very well when Romagnoli came in, and even with nine on the pitch it seemed to me we went on for quite a while showing great quality in the collective game. To me, Pipi should have been there from the beginning. In this tournament he has played very well and his inclusion in any match has almost always made an important difference. It´s absurd he wasn´t on the pitch at the beginning. He is the attacking brain of our team, a complete warrior. He doesn't seem to get as nervous in the moments of truth before the opponent's goal as other players with less experience and cool do. His free-kick goal was beautiful. Well, it´s already in the past.
Then we had to play against Independiente. Almost the entire second half with 11 against 10. I don´t like to put the blame on any player, but our attack didn´t work at all. The lack of goals on our part in this match, as against Tigre and in most of the tournament, was evident in the obvious opportunities wasted before the opposing goalkeeper. The bad aim and lack of intelligence by Gigliotti and others at the moment of passing or deciding a ball makes me feel sorry for them. Although Gigliotti has scored some important goals in the tournament, he's missed a lot, especially when he's all alone in front of the goal. But there are few Romagnolis, and besides it's not just a matter of offensive errors. In recent matches, there's been a lot of confusion and bad decisions all over the pitch. It doesn't make sense to cast blame on any player in particular. Luck hasn't been with us, and I think the coaching staff has lost their heads ever since a couple of weeks ago. Now the time could come for serious quarrels between the supporters, and I hope that we cuervos can keep calm heads, that we don't act like the River Plate supporters did if we get to the playoffs or, even worse, if we get relegated without getting any farther. Being a great one - or being a good king - means always trying to set an example of noble behavior, especially in the most fucked-up moments. That's when it means the most.
"...Be strong, guys, suffer but don't cry, because a macho man shouldn't cry..."
Dear Viggo: I agree with you completely. I was saying to my brother, after we lost against Tigre, that everything was in Pipi Romagnoli's hands. As much as his physical condition and his head allow. I think he's a force and that there have been several matches where he comes out fighting against windmills alone. I think it's important to take the drama out of everything; when you choose to play something, there are rules that make the game interesting. The possibility of relegation exists. Unfortunately it's not up to us, and the mathematics or the metaphysics of mathematics is pushing us toward the second division. Maybe we'll still have one more. It's hard for me to think that incredible comeback over Newells might not be worth anything. On the other hand, I hope that if we get bad news next weekend, we'll know how to lose with dignity. It's the only way to start gaining experience and return to what the club deserves: a cheerful team, on the attack, like the beautiful Matadores.
Yes, Fabián, I'm very sure that the San Lorenzo supporters will set the best [possible] example at Sunday's game. There's always a stupid jerk there to do damage to the rest, but in general I don't think that we're going to kick up a fuss like so many unfortunate River supporters did last year. We are great and we know how to show it. Sometimes it's those who are far away from Boedo who behave the most like honorable cuervos. San Lorenzo's peña [trans. note: supporters' club] in Japan is a very clear example. Check out this lovely photo from the other side of the world asking for the Return:
Seeing how things are turning out for Tigre, who can be a champion and get relegated at the same time, it seems to me, more than ever, that this thing with Promotion and the averages is totally absurd. I'm not saying this because San Lorenzo is in imminent danger of being relegated or because there's been cheating and sudden changes to favor other great teams in the past. The current rules are what they are, and we should all respect them. I say this because Tigre doesn´t deserve so much pressure, doesn´t deserve to have so many things on their mind and so much physical debilitation at the moment of possibly confronting Arsenal or the bosteros to determine the championship. It also seems absurd to me that deciders, triangulars, or whatever have to be played when the championship can be determined by the results of direct matches, difference in goals, etc. It´s what they do in other important leagues. In 2008 Tigre would have been champion without having to play the famous triangular custom-made for Boca Juniors. Tigre was also fucked over by Grondona and his AFA, maybe more than us. We had enough nonsense. We need a long tournament each year, and whoever comes up champion is champion.
The supporters that have reminded me most of our own are those of the Irish National Team, who, some days ago, came out singing full blast during the entire match against the current European and World champion in spite of the soccer thrashing given by the Spaniards. The feeling that their extraordinarily noble behavior provoked was heart-rending. Below I post the link to a video of the Irish supporters singing their famous song "The Fields of Athenry" at minute 89, losing 0-4 against Spain. That´s putting your guts into it:
The match against San Martín will be exciting, whatever happens, whether or not it's the final one of the tournament. We'll see if we can win and afterwards at least have the luck to play two matches so we can stay in the first [division]. I hope that our CASLA brothers and sisters make an effort to behave in an honorable way in our home, whatever the other team's supporters sing or say. Nor do we need to remind our directors, players or coaching staff that we're doing badly. Everyone is well aware of that. My sincere hope is that we cheer on and play until our last breaths like what we are: the gutsiest in Argentinian soccer. Long live the king.
Last edited: 2 July 2012 14:22:50
© Viggo Mortensen/Fabian Casas/Club Atlético San Lorenzo de Almagro.