As we speak, the Suits that run Mexican footie are on a European tour to see if they can convince any coach to take the helm of one of the more commercially successful national teams in the world. Names have been floated, hope has been elevated, and the bitter taste left from the Hugo Sanchez fiasco has started to subside.
The Federation has a mold they have created: they want an experienced, successful, coach who is tactically sound, commands respect, and has the psychological expertise to manage an ego-infested locker room. Who is this ideal coach? What creature will have to be crafted in order to meet the now rigid criteria of the Femexfut? Will we have to wait until "that dark and stormy night in November" to see this creature unveiled?
Well, to answer the last question, no. May 31 is the internal deadline the Femexfut has set to have a coach in place. In the meantime, Mexico has 3 friendlies to play, all in the US, of course (thank you SUM). What candidate will appear from behind the curtain in the press conference? Will it be a European heavyweight? A recycled local guy? A recycled Argentine? Here is my list of potential candidates?
Jose Pekerman -- The former top man at Argentina, and successful coach at the youth levels surfaced in Toluca after the World Cup. The cynic in me thought that he came to Toluca just in case Sanchez didn't pan out. Pekerman has the tools the Femexfut is looking for, and he has the added advantage that he has a better understanding of the local player and game. An informal poll of Big Soccer members had Pekerman taking 46% of the 243 votes cast. I don't necessarily think Pekerman is the first choice, but I do think he is fully capable of taking over. I see him more as the "safety school."
Frank Rijkaard -- Newly minted Femexfut top dog, Jorge Vergara, has Mr. Rijkaard very high on his list. He very well could become available as Barça looks to retool the team and coaching staff after what could be another trophyless season for the blaugrana. Rijkaard has had success, he seems to have a grasp on managing team chemistry, he plays a formation that favors Mexico's current crop of talent. He will definitely be a finalist.
Javier Aguirre -- el Vasco has done very well for himself in Europe, and he is on the verge of qualifying his colchoneros to the champions league. He did the same with Osasuna, but he didn't get the chance to follow through as he moved on to Atlético. I don't think he'll pass it up again. Besides, he hates the Femexfut's micromanagement style. He may serve more as a consultant, which is apparently what he did yesterday in a meeting in Madrid.
Marcello Lippi -- The coach who took Italy to the top is nothing more than a pipe dream, I'm afraid. It doesn't hurt to talk to him, but I don't think he has any intention of coaching outside of Italy.
Felipe Scolari -- The suits are interviewing Felipão today. He will not be available until July, which puts a crimp in the plans. He has been approached before. Big Fil certainly fits the profile, but the timetable issue could be a problem. He will be another finalist.
Jose Mourinho -- I'll be the first to admit that the chances of roping him are very slim. But since the guy has no pressing engagements, he has to be considered. He has no national team experience, but he more than makes up for it with his coaching strengths. It may not be his ideal job; one would think he would relish the opportunity to take on such a challenge. If he has a long list of demands, meet them.
Mexico has the re$ource$ to bring in a coach who can really make a difference. After the 1990 fiasco, Mexico brought in the Argentina 78 winning coach, Cesar Luis Menotti. It was Menotti who completely overhauled the Mexican footie infrastructure which led to Mexico's unprecedented run of world cup success. It is time to shift the paradigm again.
So, who gets the dedazo? If it was up to me, I would move heaven and earth to get Mourinho. If it means adding Chicken Piri Piri to menu at the Femexfut commissary, I would do it. If he asks to live in Portugal and come over for games (like the rest of the team), I would let him. The femexfut can e-mail him links to watch the league games.
Back in the real world, though, I expect it will come down to some serious vetting between Rijkaard and Big Fil. If neither are a good fit, then Pekerman gets the gig.