How bad has it been for Chivas so far in 2012? Their goal output is bad, really bad. How bad? They have only bagged twice in 450 minutes. Marco Bueno, the pimply-faced teen sensation from Pachuca has outscored them by one in only 58 minutes of action.
How bad has it been for Chivas so far in 2012? Even Estudiantes Tecos is ahead of them in the league table. With only one point accumulated, they are firmly entrenched in the Clausura cellar.
And this was the team that finished last season atop the table. Virtually the same team that was a Libertadores finalist in 2010, and a semi-finalist in the 2011 Clausura.
So the question is, ¿qué pedo con Chivas?
That is what their Mercurial owner, Jorge Vergara would like to know. And he has been very busy making the rounds to assure EVERYONE that whatever is happening with Chivas, it ain't his fault.
It's never his fault.
After all, it was he who built this finely tuned machine. And that was made very clear after he had fired Fernando Quirarte (the man he had hand-picked to replace Jose Luis Real, who had been let go when Chivas were only two points from the top). "What he did to Chivas was like giving him a Ferrari, and he turned it into a Volkswagen." What Vergara had failed to mention is that "El Sheriff" had been out of coaching for five years, so it was only natural that it might take him a little longer than usual to get his sea legs. Not enough dramamine, apparently. And the Ferrari? It hasn't spent that much time in any winner's circles.
Time, however, is not a luxury Chivas coaches are allowed to have. The new guy, Ignacio "Nacho" Ambriz, whom you may remember as the player who bombed Tony Meola from 40 in the 1993 Gold Cup Final, has been given the charge with fairly muted expectations... "Right now we're trying to get a foot-hold in Mexico, but I am certain that in a few years, we will be the best team in the world." Right now, they are not even the best team in Guadalajara (and I am including the 2nd division's U de G, who seem to be the only squad in the city who can attract a decent attendance). And let's not forget that Atlas and Estudiantes Tecos are not exactly setting the world on fire.
And then there is the attendance thing. Even last night, when tickets were being given away for free at the Omnilife for a Copa Libertadores tie, the stadium was not full, not by a longshot. Earlier, Vergara was at it again. This time he was promising to "read his team the riot act" as he went on to systematically trash his players, former players, and Nery & Gio to boot. Nothing gets a team motivated like
negative reinforcement, er, fear. "If three or four players do not want to snap out out of their funk and get better, then I will have no choice to make a change. And since the youngsters in the Academy aren't ready, we will have to bring in reinforcements." That will have to be in about four months, because, it turns out that the transfer window closed last week.
And, it's not as if Vergara is opposed to bringing in outsiders. He just hasn't had much luck with them. " I brought in Sergio Amaury Ponce, who had a good run in Toluca, and was a bust. Gonzalo Pineda did well with Pumas, but was a bust here, the same with Aaron Galindo, who had performed at an excellent level in Germany."
Remember, nothing is ever Vergara's fault.
Did it work for Jorge? Well, yes and no. One of the targets of his wrath, Jhonny Magallon had a terrible give away that led to Deportivo Quito's goal last night. But another recipient of his poisoned darts, Omar Arellano, managed to get a very late equalizer to salvage a point.
I'll be the first to admit that I don't know anything about running a team. But I performed my own very unscientific study -- I asked my wife (WWKJD). If she was a team owner, how would she handle it if her team was struggling. She was very eloquent and persuasive, and at no time did she say that she would trash her players publicly. That's not her style; she would circle the wagons. It's hard for Chivas to circle the wagons, however, when the arrows are fired from within.
I have always admired the way Chivas has put their faith in the kids, and for the large part, the kids have responded. But it's not easy to forget that they are just that: kids. And they were eventually going to hit the proverbial wall. The problem for Chivas, then, is that they do not have enough veterans to lean on when the fellas hit the skids. They don't have to be world beaters, just guys that know a thing or two about dealing with the situation and keep the kiddos from pressing.
Is it smart, then, to force two teenagers to carry the scoring load? Doesn't the risk outweigh the reward in this instance? Wouldn't it be nice to have a proven, early thirty-something veteran to help shore up the attack? Truth be told, it's hard for anyone to score, teenagers or otherwise, without service. And the service has been lacking.
Because of Chivas' personnel philosophy, they have to pay a premium to bring in reinforcements, there is no denying that. But the best player available doesn't necessarily mean he'll be the best fit. This isn't Fantasy Football. Let's not forget that when Chivas last won a title in 2006 (Vergara's only trophy), the team was a solid mix of homegrown and the store-bought.
Just as sure as the sky is falling now, the kids will figure out how to climb over the wall. They will begin to play great soccer again and might even win something. And when they do, Jorge Vergara will be there, front and center, taking all of the credit.
How do we know this? Because when things are bad, he never takes any of the blame.