So long Victor Manuel Vucetich.
The Mexican Football Federation along with the Liga MX club owners decided to sack King Midas after the defeat at Costa Rica.
El Tri is set to face New Zealand next month in a two-legged playoff to determine the last team that will play in the 2014 World Cup.
The new manager—for the playoff only—is Miguel Herrera, a 45-year-old who has won one Liga MX title (and nothing else) in his 13-year career.
He has coached Atlante, Monterrey, Veracruz, Estudiantes Tecos and America; with the latter he won the Mexican league last May.
El Piojo lost two finals with Monterrey and failed in his attempt to keep Veracruz in the first division.
His most successful tenure has been with America.
In the 2012 Clausura, Herrera led Las Aguilas to the third place of the general table, which also meant a spot in the playoffs (Liguilla). Once there, Monterrey—coached by Vucetich—defeated them.
The club’s performance continued to rise.
In the 2012 Apertura, America made it to the semifinals, where Toluca eliminated them.
In the following tournament, the 2013 Clausura, Herrera secured the Liga MX title. America fought hard and overcame an adverse score (2-0). Aquivaldo Mosquera and Moises Muñoz (the goalkeeper) scored—in the 89th and 93rd minutes respectively to force overtime and, eventually, penalty kicks, where they surpassed Cruz Azul.
Herrera usually plays a 5-3-2 formation, which tends to be very offensive, especially through the flanks.
He is also a very energetic man, as his celebration in the final game of the 2013 Clausura against La Maquina has been seen by the world.
However, he is not nearly as experienced as Vucetich, who won three CONCACAF Champions Leagues, two Liga MX titles and one Interliga in a four-year span with Monterrey.
He also grabbed the local league title with Estudiantes Tecos and Pachuca and was appointed the Best Manager of the 2009 and 2010 Apertura tournaments.
Dubbed King Midas for transforming shaky teams into successful clubs, Vucetich was the best choice after Jose Manuel de la Torre and Luis Fernando Tena left El Tri in a precarious situation.
In return, Vucetich secured Mexico’s first and only win at the Estadio Azteca in the Hexagonal. Despite losing at Costa Rica, El Tri qualified to the playoff after a combination of results that included a USA victory over Panama.
He told ESPN after being sacked:
You cannot grade a manager in two games. It is impossible; I’m talking about any coach. You cannot overlook a whole career that has been successful. I believe that if there’s something that supports me are those results.
After de la Torre and Tena left, Mexico needed stability. Vucetich is the kind of coach that can deliver it along with structure and organization but without continuity it is impossible to overturn a crisis that has been evident since last February.
Vucetich should have stayed for the playoff—where El Tri will likely secure the ticket for Brazil 2014—and then he would have had six months to prepare the squad.
In his talk with ESPN he also said:
It’s unfair, no question. To discredit someone in that way is not OK. One of the objectives we had was to qualify to the playoff. We achieved it, no matter how but we did it. We changed some players, it was a very short span of time to work with the footballers (six sessions) and that limits any manager.
Vucetich wanted to change the team. The first sign of it was leaving some of the footballers that play abroad outside of his lineup because they were not in shape.
Mexico has had four coaches in less than a year now. De la Torre should have been fired earlier; Tena was never meant to be but the situation put him in charge of the squad, and Vucetich was disrespected.
After a presser, the Director of National Teams, Hector Gonzalez Iñarritu said that this weekend he would have some meetings to resolve everything and Sunday he would appoint Miguel Herrera as the head coach.
Herrera is supposed to turn around Mexico’s worst football crisis in 32 years and he must do it in a playoff that includes a hectic trip: Mexico-San Francisco-Auckland-Wellington, and when the mindset and confidence are at their lowest point.
Don’t be surprised if El Piojo decides to bring several America footballers: Moises Muñoz, Juan Carlos Valenzuela, Luis Angel Mendoza and Juan Carlos Medina. He will keep Raul Jimenez and Miguel Layun, also members of Las Aguilas.
Luckily for Herrera and El Tri, the Mexican fans have short-term memory and a victory against the team that sits 65th in FIFA Rankings will be a matter of national pride and celebration.