Chepo de la Torre and Victor Vucetich are good friends
It’s only been 4 months since Mexico’s World Cup ended in Soccer City. And so much has happened since as Mexico prepares for the next World Cup cycle.
Except for one thing.
Naming a coach.
Fortunately, that drama appears to be drawing to a close. Two candidates have emerged as the favorites to (walk the plank) take the thankless position of Mexico National Team Manager. They will be paid handsomely, of course. They should be. Business is booming for the Mexico National Team.
Mexico played 34 official matches since 2007 leading up to South Africa 2010. They also played 33 friendlies. Only South Africa played in more, which is what one would expect from a team that did not have to go through qualifying.
So who will be the chosen one to lead Mexico through this treacherous labyrinth as well as coach the team?
Will it be the early favorite, Jose Manuel “Chepo” de la Torre? What the Toluca coach lacks in experience, he more than makes up for in guile. Despite a short tenure in the coaching ranks, Chepo has won three league titles: two with his current team, Toluca, and one with Guadalajara.
Positives: He is a proven winner. He has a pragmatic, disciplined approach to the game.
Negatives: He might preach discipline, but occasionally lets his temper get the better of him. For better or worse, his brother, Nestor, is currently the National Team Director. It shouldn’t make a difference, but think of whom we are talking about here.
The other coach that has emerged as a primary contender is Victor Manuel Vucetich, who is currently puling the strings at Monterrey, quite successfully. Monterrey won the A2009 title, making it four trophies for Vucetich in his 20 year career (all with different teams).
Positives: Long on experience. Known to get the most out of modest teams (he won a trophy with Tecos, for God’s sakes). Adapted his traditionally defensive posture into a more fluid attacking style at Monterrey. The results speak for themselves.
Negatives: Has not fared well when the spotlight was brighter. He did not succeed at all at Cruz Azul, and did very poorly in last year’s Libertadores. For some reason, he used mainly reserves in his first group games, and it cost him dearly.
If you believe Hector Huerta, the slick-haired “reporter” on ESPN Deportes, who is as reliable as your geeked up brother-in-law, the FMF will also interview Enrique Meza, lately of Cruz Azul, for the position as well. Meza, you may remember, was a categorical catastrophe in his one and only term as Mexico’s coach. When it was all said and done, he had the lowest winning percentage of any coach in Mexico’s history.
If it was up to me, I would lean toward Vucetich because he has a little more experience and has proven that he can do more with less. He has also shown lately that he can adapt his chosen style of play to take advantage of his players’ best assets. That is no knock on Chepo, though. He is an equally capable coach whose biggest strength is his ability to get the best out of his players. In other words, I would be fine with either one.
When the coach is announced, there will be a lot of fanfare and a lot of promise. There will also be a lot talk about getting to Brasil 2014. But coach beware. A 4 year contract is really a 2 year trial. A Gold Cup, a Copa America, and an Olympic qualifying tournament awaits. A trophy will have to be lifted. Not because it will make the team better-- it will it more marketable.
If that objective is not met, then Mexico will likely change horses in mid-stream.
Like they have in every World Cup cycle save one (2006) since Bora’s turn in 1986.