Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Rugby Union: Pressure's on for Loffreda; Success May Not Save Leicester Supremo from Sack

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Rugby Union: Pressure's on for Loffreda; Success May Not Save Leicester Supremo from Sack

Article excerpt

Byline: ALEX LOWE

LEICESTER director of rugby Marcelo Loffreda is not guaranteed to keep his job even if the Tigers retain the Guinness Premiership title on Saturday, writes ALEX LOWE.

Loffreda, who has only been in charge at Welford Road for seven months, will have his position reviewed once the season is over.

The former Argentina coach has been under growing pressure in recent months as Leicester came perilously close to missing out on both the Premiership play-offs and Heineken Cup qualification.

Against the odds, the Tigers did manage to secure a return to Twickenham with dramatic late victories over Harlequins and then at Gloucester.

But Loffreda's future remains in doubt after a difficult first season at Welford Road, plagued by inconsistent results on the field and whispers of divisions within the camp off it.

Leicester chief executive Peter Wheeler yesterday refused to confirm Loffreda will still be in charge of the club next season.

Wheeler said: "It has been a difficult season and it has been extremely difficult for him (Loffreda). He has a contract in place for the next two years.

"We will have a review of the coaching staff, as we do every year. The whole set-up will be reviewed. What I have said all along is that we have to be sure that we have the right people in place to do the job.

"The result on Saturday will have some relevance. We just have to be sure the whole structure is right and that we are on the right track."

When the comparison with Avram Grant's exit as Chelsea manager only three days after the Champions League final was made, Wheeler added: "Life is much more difficult these days."

Loffreda did not arrive at Leicester until after the World Cup, where he guided Argentina to an unprecedented third place, with the Premiership season already well under way.

He has had to strike a balance between producing the results demanded of him while also trying to settle his family into a new country and build a new regime. Some may argue reaching the EDF Energy Cup final and Guinness Premiership final would indicate Loffreda had found a balance and next year would be easier with a full summer's preparation. …

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