In a span of four months, Jose Manuel "Chepo" de la Torre has turned Mexico from CONCACAF juggernaut into a side that was afraid to play Panama. At the Rose Bowl. Along the way, his team has yet to score a goal at the Azteca, he has alienated the most talented player at his disposal, and has lost 6 home points in the final round of than Mexico had lost . There is something rotten in the Colonia Roma, and it may be time to tie this thing off before before something absolutely tragic happens: Televisa and TV Azteca lose millions in World Cup ad revenue because Mexico won't be playing in Brazil next summer. Some losses have already hit the books. Which makes me wonder: is Chepo obligated to ensure that Mexico playes 6 games in the Gold Cup to get Mexico back on the winning track, or to make sure that the TV giants don't take any more hits in the revenue department?
In the aftermath of Mexico's loss to Panama on Sunday, #fuerachepo became a worldwide trending topic on the twitter. The only thing more humiliating for him was being escorted off the Rose Bowl pitch in a cascade of thrown water bottles. It was easily the worst performance in the de la Torre era and after he made the press wait a good hour after the match for his post-game presser, the speculatron was overloading with rumors that Chepo was done.
As is his wont, Chepo hid behind the harsh line of questioning with his "as of now, we are qualified for the World Cup, which is our main objective" talking point. He also talked about his slumping team. It is understandable that teams go through a slump. It happens everywhere even Real Madrid and Barcelona, as Chepo reminded the press, have downticks. But how does he explain, then, ow a completely different set of players can look equally as bad (or worse) as the group of players that scored only one goal in three qualifiers and went three out in the Confed Cup? It is pretty easy, actually. You cannot spell hopelessly predictable without C-H-E-P-O?
If anyone is in a worse slump than Mexico, it is Chepo himself. He may not get to work through it. Read the first paragraph as a reference.
What if Chepo does get canned after (or during) the Gold Cup? Who would come in? Victor Manuel Vucetich is an obvious candidate, but he already turned down FMF once. Miguel Herrera would certainly inject a lot of enthusiasm into the situation, but that is about it. The usual fireman, Javier Aguirre, just re-upped with Español, so he is out. Loco Bielsa is available, but he would ask for too much money and too much power.
It is Chepo's stubborn personality that is partly to blame for this mess, so it is encouraging, at the very least, to see some soften on some of his more rigid positions. Mexico played their best soccer in Brazil in the 4-3-3 formation, so Chepo trotted that out in the Rose Bowl. Unfortunately, stubborn Chepo made some questionable personnel decisions with folks who may not have been best suited to play in said formation. And just yesterday, Chepo opened up a Mexico practice to the media for the first time in his reign.
There is no question that the players are reflecting Chepo's disquiet and that has been palpable all year. Let's face it, Chepo has been so tight that he could make a good living in Antwerp dealing his own diamonds. If he finds a way to loosen up, turn his perpetual frown upside down, and remind his players to do the same, then there is hope. If not, then Mexico will be thanking their stars if they get to have a home and home with New Zealand in November.