'I was very alone and isolated,' says angry Loffreda

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The Independent Online

Marcelo Loffreda, sacked by Leicester after only seven months as the head coach at Welford Road, has hit out at the lack of support he received from the coaching staff at the club.

The appointment last November of the former Argentina coach, who arrived having guided his country to third place at the World Cup, caused some surprise, as Leicester are known forbeing a close-knit rugby community who like to promote from within. Now Loffreda has reinforced that notion. "I always felt the staff's distance," he said. "They treated me always correctly, but never warm. I was very alone, isolated."

Loffreda, 49, inherited a coaching team which included Richard Cockerill and Neil Back, the former Leicester and England forwards. The Argentinian yesterday said that, in retrospect, he should have brought his own people with him. "I think that one of my mistakes was not having my own work team composed by Argentinians or foreigners. People trustworthy."

Loffreda finished his first season trophyless, having led Leicester to the EDF Energy Cup final and Guinness Premiership final but coming away with defeats by the Ospreys and Wasps respectively. After rumours of strained relationships with the coaches, and even worse links with the players, the club did not wait long to act and the board voted unanimously to dispense with the coach. "Leicester's staff asked me to do a report about my months with the team and also with my expectations about the next ones," said Loffreda. "I delivered it on Thursday at 7pm, we had a meeting on Friday at 10am and they told me then that the contract reached an end."

Loffreda sounded somewhat shell-shocked by his exper- ience at Leicester, adding: "I need to rest now. I went to England as soon as the World Cup ended. I need to relax."

Only two months into his reign there were concerns in the Leicester boardroom that Loffreda was not the man to restore the club's flagging fortunes. His training methods failed to impressthe players and his lack of fluent English is said to have made his team-talks somewhat less than inspiring.

Loffreda, who managed to guide Leicester into the play-offs only on the last day of the regular season, admitted last weekend to being hurt by his dismissal. "I know some members of the board wanted my departure," he said. "I felt a lot of pressure in the last weeks and I felt weaker mentally. It all ended with the bad news. It hurts too much.

" It was very traumatic to move to England and is again having to return now. My family made a big effort to get accustomed to a new place.

"The most important thing is to learn about all this and I think I learnt a lot. I gave my best and worked very hard. That is what matters.

"This kind of club needs permanent success. Thatoutlook does not breed tolerance."

Peter Tom, the Leicester chairman, explained that the decision was taken not purely because of results. "We accept we have to lose now and again but it is the manner in which we have lost, and there have been concerns as to why we've performed they waywe have," he said.

"We have huge aspirations at the Tigers and there were things that we felt weren't quite going as they should do."