Mexico national team manager Miguel Herrera, who became a global sensation during the 2014 World Cup, has reportedly agreed to a contract extension through 2018 with El Tri.
Craig Hope of the Daily Mail reports the new deal will cover the next World Cup cycle, which Mexico hopes will be less stressful than the last. He also passed along comments from association president Justino Compean about the decision:
We're going with him and hopefully he lasts. His work was extraordinary (in Brazil).
We're pleased because in the short time he had to work, he did it very well, achieving very good results in the style of play and in what the national team transmitted.
Javier Aguirre stepped away after the 2010 World Cup, and Mexico struggled to find a permanent replacement. Jose Manuel de la Torre had the longest stint at the helm, but he endured mediocre results that left El Tri on the brink of missing this summer's showcase event.
After going through a few more coaches, Herrera finally clicked with Mexico. He provided an incredible amount of enthusiasm and oozed confidence, despite the side's previously lackluster results. And the players seemed to buy in.
El Tri easily dispatched New Zealand in the qualifying playoffs. Leading up to the World Cup, he continued to insist Mexico was good enough to raise the trophy. Tom Marshall of Sporting News passed along some of his optimistic comments:
"We're ready, there are no excuses. The team has surprised me more than I thought. ... We can be world champions," Herrera said.
Mexico proceeded to advance from Group A with victories over Cameroon and Croatia, along with a draw against the host nation of Brazil. Those results wouldn't have seemed possible even a year before the tournament began.
Herrera had clearly raised the side's form, and he enjoyed every minute of it. His sideline celebrations became a must-see portion of the tournament. Football Funnys provided one example:
Mexico pushed the Netherlands to the limit in the round of 16 before the Dutch scored two quick goals in the final minutes to stun El Tri. It was a disappointing finish but still a solid result given they almost missed out on the event altogether.
Looking ahead, Mexico is definitely trending in the right direction under Herrera. He was able to transform the side from an afterthought into an extremely competitive bunch in a very short period of time. Now he's got four years to build.
Kyle Bonn of Pro Soccer Talk discussed some of Herrera's impact on the team:
Herrera instilled a sense of togetherness, along with becoming an internet sensation with his loveable touchline antics.
The new stability for Mexico is a long time coming, with the country blowing through an astonishing four managers in the 2013 calendar year before sticking with Herrera.
One key will be finding a way to get Javier Hernandez more heavily involved. Part of that comes down to the forward getting more playing time at club level. That said, he's one of the side's most talented attacking players and can be a major asset in the right role.
It's one of several things Herrera can work on in the months ahead. For now, Mexico feels like its national team is in good hands and rightfully so.
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