Mexico plays Ghana this week in London, and most people are predicting that this friendly will be the last exercise for Hugo Sanchez as coach of the Mexican team. His detractors point to his mediocre record, and the recent humiliation of not qualifying for the Olympic tournament as the main reasons for his dismissal. Others are also quick to point out that Hugo is in over his head when it comes to tactics and strategy and are fearful that he is “wasting” the talent available to him. The rest are just sick of his arrogance, and his game has grown tired and stale. What everyone seems to agree on is that the want Hugo out, and they want him out yesterday.
Well, isn’t that just super? Of course, everyone wants Hugo gone. This game has been played out before. And it gets played out every week in the Mexican league. One bad result is worth a pink slip. Just ask the six coaches who have already been fired in this tournament alone (it’s only week 11, so there are surely more to come). Does it say that owners want to win, and will go to any lengths to put their teams in position to win? Not all. It says that owners are impatient, and they scapegoat the coach at the first sign of adversity.
This time around, the adverse conditions are at the foot of the FEMEXFUT. The Golden Boy, the pentapichichi, the most famous and most decorated player in history is at the crossroads. He’ll be in the box on Wednesday, but what will his future hold next week? History shows us that Hugo is gone. But I guess my question is… what is that going to solve? Is it going to make Mexico better or worse? Well, it is certainly not going to make them any better.
If Mexico gets rid of Sanchez, what kind of message does it send to the world that Mexico wilts at the first sign of trouble? The FEMEXFUT can forget about getting a coach with any kind of international clout. Teams fail much more than they succeed. That is why there is only one champion per league, per tournament. The teams that didn’t make it regroup, and set in motion a plan for success. In Mexico, however, a two game losing streak is grounds for dismissal. Sadly, since Mexico has absolutely no chance in harpooning a big fish, they will be stuck with another of the recycled coaches who will defer to the owners on everything, including what players to put on the team. So you can forget about Aguirre, he has this crazy notion that as coach, he gets to pick his players. What a silly sod!!
There is no question that not advancing in the Olympic tournament was a colossal failure. I also believe that you have to fall down a few times before you can stand. Mistakes suck, and everyone hates making them, but they also present an opportunity to learn from them. I hope that Hugo learns that regardless of the opponent, you have to scout, study, and respect them before you can beat them.
Unfortunately, impatience has no room for that learnin’ stuff. Let the other coach figure that out. The next big test for the Mexican coach will be the semi final group stage of the CONCACAF tournament that will more than likely feature Canada, Jamaica, Honduras, and Mexico. Sadly, the scenario that I see playing out is more of the same: Mexico, relying on its reputation, barely gets out alive (if at all) because they did not bother to do their due diligence.
The saddest aspect of this whole melodrama is that while owners posture and beat the table with their fists demanding action, it is the television giants that call the shots. It is bad enough that the FEMEXFUT allows them to own teams (and have a seat at the table) in the first place, but now they will bitch that their ad sales projections are going to be down because Mexico isn’t in the Olympics. Yes, the very same television companies whose production value rivals what I see on my local access channels (the local access is better), who don’t know what color correction means, and who spend the bare minimum just to get programming on the air are the ones who will ultimately decide Sanchez’s fate.
And what criteria will they use to determine his effectiveness as coach?
Has the team improved under Sanchez?
Have we made money with Sanchez?
Is Mexico still on plan to make it to South Africa?
Did we lose ad revenue? Check. We gotta get rid of him.
So Sanchez will likely be gone after next Monday. Will Mexico be better for it? If he is replaced with an also-ran, absolutely not. Most if not all Mexican fans agree that Mexico finally has the players it needs to finally make a significant run in the World Cup. And if the FEMEXFUT is serious about improving the quality of play, then they need to hire someone who can bring in a fresh perspective, new ideas, and a new energy. If not, it’ll be just like that show that was on every Sunday… Siempre lo Mismo.