SAO PAULO (AP) — Brazilian club Palmeiras has fired Ricardo Gareca just three months after taking a chance on the Argentine coach.
Monday's announcement comes two days after the traditional club lost for the eighth time in 13 games under Gareca's command. He had only one win in nine Brazilian league matches and leaves the club just one spot outside relegation zone with a round left before the competition's halfway point.
Palmeiras made a rare move by hiring the Argentine coach in May and had been trying to stand by him despite the poor results, but the pressure to fire Gareca increased significantly after Saturday's 1-0 home loss to Internacional at a packed Pacaembu Stadium.
The coach had a contract with Palmeiras until June 2015.
"I leave disappointed with my results, but not with the club, which is huge," Gareca said after meeting with club directors at the team's headquarters in Sao Paulo. "I can only thank the fans for their support."
Fans had been patient with Gareca despite the team's struggles and most of the complaints had been about the poor signings made by the club. Palmeiras released a brief statement thanking the Argentine coach and wishing him luck.
"It was a difficult situation, being a foreign coach here, and the results didn't come," Gareca said. "I wished I could have stayed to help the team improve, but I understand the club's decision."
Gareca was the first Argentine coach to be hired by a top Brazilian club since Daniel Passarela signed with Corinthians in 2005, where he stayed only four months before being fired. Gareca was hired for his success with Velez Sarsfield, where he won four Argentine titles.
Gareca's replacement was not immediately announced, but former Corinthians coach Tite and former player Dorival Jr. were rumored to be under consideration. Interim coach Alberto Valentim is expected to coach the team in the next few matches.
Gareca won two Brazilian Cup games a friendly against Fiorentina before finally picking up his first Brazilian league victory on Aug. 23. The team took just four points from nine games, with seven losses.
The coach brought four Argentine players to Palmeiras after being hired — defender Fernando Tobio and forwards Jonathan Cristaldo, Agustin Allione and Pablo Mouche.
Palmeiras has been struggling financially and recently became the first top club in Brazil to install a salary cap. The club said it was close to signing two-time FIFA player of the year Ronaldinho last week, but the negotiations fell through because of financial details.
The Brazilian team with most national titles and the country's fourth-largest fan base, Palmeiras is celebrating its centennial this year and relegation would be disastrous. The club played in the second division in 2013 and 2003.
An eight-time Brazilian champion, Palmeiras is expected to inaugurate its new 45,000-capacity arena in Sao Paulo in the next few weeks.
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