The Liga Mexicana's ratings have dipped over the past few years, and league executives are looking for ways to make the league more appealing. While they look at a "premier league", change the point system, etc., is there a more tried and true method of attracting more eye-balls than the signing of the "polarizing figure?"
This week, two of of those who can be categorized as such will be returning to the Mexican league: Ricardo LaVolpe and Hugo Sanchez. Lavolpe will be returning to coach the team where he won his only club championship: Atlante. Sanchez, meanwhile, has come to terms with Pachuca to be their head coach.
The new Atlante coach has long been considered a tactical stalwart, whose has influenced a litany of coaches, including Pep Guardiola. There are still plenty of his protegees who preach Lavolpismo every week in the Mexican League. One would think that a coach who has that kind of gravitas would have won more titles than he has. So, what's up?
Who can say? Here is what we know. It is no secret that Lavolpe has an abrasive personality, he is also as well-known for being a hot-head as he is for his tactical prowess. In short, he wears out his welcomes very quickly, particularly with the brass. It also does not help that he has an adversarial relationship with the media. One only needs to look no further than his contentious tenure at Costa Rica as proof. In short, Lavolpe is brooding, abrasive, moody, short-tempered, comfrontational, yet well-liked by most of his players. All of that might not be so bad, as long as he was winning. Winning, after all, is a great deodorant.
But he doesn't win much, and there's the rub.
Lavolpe shares a very caustic relationship with Pachuca's new coaching hire, Hugo Sanchez. El Pentapichichi returns to Mexican futbol after being shown the door in 2008 when he failed to qualify Mexico's Olympic team to the tournament in Beijing. El niño de oro may not be the x's and o's guy that Lavolpe is, but he is the only coach to have repeated as champion in the short-season era. Of course, Hugo's bugaboo has always been his extreme arrogance, which was in grand display at his introductory press conference. "Wherever I have coached, I have done my best work." He added, "I have done so at Pumas, the short time I was at Necaxa, the National Team, and Almeria, where we had serious limitations."
If anything, Pachuca and Atlante have made themselves a lot more relevant with these hires, and all eyes will be on both coaches, especially after defeats. Stay tuned.
In other news, Jorge Vergara finally reversed one of his most ridiculous decisions. His new Ominilife Stadium was supposed to be the new Chivas fortress. It has been anything but. Crowds have sparse ( I am being polite), and, of course, there was that field turf thing. The Guadalajara player never looked comfortable on the fake stuff, and that was magnified this past season when Chivas went slipped from first, to 15th.
In came Johan Cruff, who was hired as an advisor. So far Cruff has replaced the coach, is in the midst of making personnel decisions, and, yes, recommended to replace the plastic and rubber pellets with grass. Finally.
Chivas players always kept mum on the subject, but opposing teams had a little more freedom to express their opinion. Former Morelia coach, Tomas Boy said it best. "This field does allow for a good game. It penalizes Chivas more because they have a fast, dynamic side. But if you can't control the ball, it's going to affect the way you play."
Now that the playing surface issue has been settled, the team is being shaped in Cruyff's image, the only thing left is to get people to go to the stadium.