I always hesitate to write about coaches in Mexican futbol because the coaching carousel spins faster than a centrifuge. But as the dawn of the Liga MX approaches, rosy fingered, no doubt, quite a few teams have made some intriguing coaching changes. I know what you're thinking: regular readers of this space know that of the 18 coaches that start the season, it would not be surprising to see more than half of them in the unemployment lines at the end of the season. Continuity is not part of the vernacular for most teams.
So let's start with the ones that are returning from last season.
Benjamin Galindo - El Maestro is back to help Santos defend their title and make another deep run in the Concachampions. He has the squad to do so.
Victor Vucetich - The current longest tenured coach re-upped with Monterrey. Hopefully he got what he wanted as he has been by far the most successful coach in Rayados' history. He can add to it this year. Tuca Ferretti - His style of play is not flashiest, but it is damned effective. One would think that a team would take on the personality of the coach, but at Tigres, it is quite the opposite. Tigres are methodical and somewhat cautious. Tuca never needs to use Q-tips because he is such a hot-head, I fail to see how ear wax does not melt away. After leading Tigres to their first title in 30 years, the fiery coach reached deity levels of adoration in Monterrey. His team is loaded again.
Miguel Herrera - El Piojo is back with America, but a slow start in the new Liga MX fast-tracks him to the top of the list of coaches most likely to get fired. He shouldn't take it personally, though; that's just the way it is for any Club America coach.
Guadalupe Cruz - The Chiapas coach witnessed his best player, Jackson Martinez, move on to Porto (which seems to be one of the better talent evaluators in the world). Jaguares always seem to over-achieve, which is a testament to the quality of their coach.
Antonio Mohamed - El Turco was brought on to help the Aztec Dogs escape relegation. Not only was he successful in keeping Xolos in the top flight, he led them to the liguilla. Expectations are even higher in Tijuana this season.
Juan Carlos Chavez - Despite their goal tally not escaping the land of single digits, Atlas escaped relegation. The rojinegros will be in the drop zone again, so the coach asked for, and got offensive help in Hector Mancilla and Matias Vuoso.
Gustavo Matosas - The Uruguayan had great success with Leon last season, losing only once on their way to earning promotion. While los esmeraldas have enjoyed a terrfic pre-season, Matosas knows as well as anyone that league games and the relegation fight are a different animal entirely.
From the Pile
Few coaches have experienced more on the success/failure spectrum than Ruben Omar Romano, whose passport also has stamps from just about every team. The argentine has done just about everything there is to do, except win a title. While he has the horses at Morelia to make a run at it, Jose Luis Trejo should consider his season a success at San Luis if the Gladiators show to be anything more than filler.
Meanwhile, at CU, a new regime in the front office installed an abrupt shift in Pumas philosophy: buy players. After going years without bringing in any reinforcements, someone finally helped Pumas find their checkbook....
Much to the chagrin of former Pumas coach, Guillermo Vazquez, who left the team specifically because the old guard had refused to sign any new players. The new suits, led by former Tri Captain Alberto Garcia Aspe, failed to convince Vazquez to come back (because he had been successfully courted by $omeone else - more about that in a minute). Pumas then settled for Joaquin Del Olmo, Garcia Aspe's former World Cup teammate who was a disaster last year at Xolos.
Carlos de los Cobos probably deserves better than what he has to work with at Queretaro. Last season, the team was made up mostly of Chivas players on loan - a lot of those guys are no longer on the team. This season, at least he got Uruguyan striker Carlos Bueno back. Regardless, Queretero will be hard pressed to escape the drop zone.
Enrique Meza - Few can argue against that since the calendar switched to a two-season season, no team has had more success than Toluca, who won 4 titles in 4 years at the turn of the century. 3 of those titles were captured with Ojitos Meza at the helm. Meza is back at Toluca, but will not have a Pepe Cardozo to score all those goals like he did during Toluca's Golden Age. He also won't have scoring champ Uruguayan Ivan Alonso, who discovered he has a heart arrhythmia and chose not to play in the Tolucan thin air.
Guillermo Vazquez - Memo turned down the Pumas offer to instead take over for Meza at Cruz Azul. Despite being one of the most consistent teams in Mexico, the cementeros have only won one championship in the last 30 years.
Welcome to the club
Daniel Bartolotta - Puebla. The Argentine makes his head coaching debut as the camoteros' skipper. He has some talent to work with, but a chaotic front office always seems to get in the way.
Johan Cruyff hand picked John Van't Schip to right the, well, ship, at Chivas. The sacred herd's owner, Jorge Vergara, has given the Dutch master full authority to make whatever changes he deemed necessary to bring glory back to Guadalajara. Cruyff has since sodded the playing surface at the Omnilife, brought in two veteran players, and named Van't Schip the coach. Will it make a difference? Stay tuned.
Hugo Sanchez befriended Pachuca owner, Jesus Martinez, at the inaugural Hall of Fame ceremonies last year. After naming Sanchez coach, the owner then brought in a cavalcade of high-dollar reinforcements. The pentapichichi has never been considered a solid tactician, and even when he led Pumas to the only back-to-back titles in the short season era, credit went to his assistants. He has a huge chance to quiet his critics, and with the transfers Pachuca brought into the fold, the pressure is on.
Sanchez may not be the technical stalwart that Ricardo Lavolpe is, but as great a coach as he and his legion of Lavolpistas think he is, even Hugo has won more league titles than the chain-smoking Argentine. he is back with Atlante, the team with which he won his only title. As brilliant as he may be with the x's and o's, it is Lavolpe's mouth that has always worn out his welcome, and he wasted no time in sticking his foot in it when he declared that he did not have the players at his new club to compete for a title. It was a great way to ingratiate himself with his squad, no doubt. Not to be outdone by himself, he also took credit for Monterrey's recent run of success, since it was him that built the team.
I can see why he is so popular among the press. he is a walking headline waiting to happen.