After losing at home to cellar-dwelling Queretaro, 2-0, Santos Laguna fired their coach, Ruben Omar Romano.
Puzzling. But this is Mexican futbol, after all. Coaches have been fired for less.
Under Romano, Santos had been finalists in the last two tournaments. Even with the loss, they were only a few points behind in the tournament. They are in the Concachampions and have a quality roster that can win both tournaments.
But they fired him anyway.
And then the club released its official reason.
“Santos Laguna is reporting the termination as Ruben Omar Romano as head coach, as well as his coaching staff. The behavior shown by the staff toward the Santos fan base after the Santos-Queretaro match in no way represents the values that this institution represents, and it is why the decision was made to part ways with the coach.”
The Santos fans jeered their squad at the end of the game, and Romano took issue.
"The fans have short memories: we played in two finals, which they apparently have forgotten. But we'll get to the final again, become champions, and I will leave with no regrets."
He called out the fans in words and gestures. Granted, coaches shouldn't be above reproach, but is this really a firing offense? Wouldn’t a fine be more appropriate here?
And what about those poor fans who were at the business end of Romano's communiques? I can't think of anything worse than offending the sensibilities of the people who regularly throw so much trash et al on the pitch that riot police are needed to protect players during corner kicks.
One would think that a coach fired for an act of overt unprofessionalism should not be praised for his professionalism in the same press release.
But he is.
“Santos Laguna appreciates the effort, dedication and professionalism shown by both Ruben Omar Romano and his staff, who led us to a high point in the history of our club: two finals in 2010 as well as a quarterfinal appearance in the (sic) Concachampions.”
Something is fishy in the Comarca Lagunera.
And this isn’t the first time this has happened. One of Romano’s predecessors, Daniel Guzman, saved Santos from the drop and then made them champions the following year. But a short losing streak hastened his departure as well.
Perhaps Romano was right when he said that the fans have no memory. The Front Office certainly doesn’t, and it only took them one day to find his replacement. Argentine Diego Cocca was named as coach today. He first met the Santos staff when he was at the helm of Gimnasia la Plata, a team that played Santos in the pre-season.
Fishy indeed. But not surprising.