See what I did there? The use of the conditional tense is the Mexican soccer headline writer's best friend. It is a great hedge, no doubt. So whether it happens or not, my headline would be right. For those who follow Mexican soccer, it really should be no surprise that it has come to this. On any team, be it National or club, a prolonged slump usually has severe repercussions. The suits have a few options: they can buy their way out of trouble, fire a coach, or buy and move a team.
Even a confederation as crooked as CONCACAF won't allow the FMF to buy Panama's side and move them to the Azteca. That leaves the other two options. Fire the coach and/or buy their way out of trouble. They are probably going to have to do both. They are meeting tomorrow with Chepo's tenure the sole item on the agenda.
Depending on whom you believe, Chepo's status as coach is either hanging on by its last thread, or as solid as it has ever been. Some have even said that the Confed Cup and Gold Cup performances just didn't matter as much because the real judgement day would happen in September at home to Honduras. That really didn't make any sense, though. Why would any coach take a job with only 3 days to prepare for another crucial qualifier away to the team's arch rival?
The team owners and FMF suits can rattle their cages all they want, Chepo's fate will be decided by one person and one person only: Emilio Azcarraga Jean, the head honcho at Televisa. His decision will likely be swayed by the projected revenue report one of his underlings will have waiting for him as he gets to the office on Monday. One column will have Mexico in the World Cup, one will not. How many zeros do you think will be between the parenthesis on the "will not" side of the spreadsheet? Seven? Eight? Nine??
If the Chepo era does come to an end on Monday, then what? Mexico will have a friendly against the Ivory Coastto offer up to the new coach before the game at the Azteca to Honduras. So it would make the most sense to go ahead and sever ties now. Who comes in then?
Tomas Boy. Apparently some owners have been impressed with the way the former Tigres player, and one of Mexico's all-time greats, handled Atlas' crisis last season. Boy is even more egotistical and hot-headed than Chepo. And he is on the record as not being a Gio Dos Santos fan at all. The last thing Mexico needs is another player/coach spat with one of their top players.
Marcelo bielsa. "El Loco" has been spotted in this part of the world over the past few days. He has coached in Mexico before, so he does not have to solve the Gordian Knot of Mexican soccer that is apparently so complicated for outsiders. His hiring will be contingent on two things: lots of cash, and complete control. The suits know they will have to acquiesce on one, but the other? I guess we'll see how desperate they are.
Luis Fernando Tena. The safest choice. Flaco did very well in his tenure as the U23 coach, winning every tournament he entered, save Copa America, where his team was decimated by Chepo's hard line disciplinary stance. It would not be surprising at all if he is named the interim coach to be re-evaluated if Mexico manages to qualify for the World Cup.
How did it go wrong for Chepo? Two basic points: predictability and stubbornness. Digging a little deeper, we also cannot ignore the fact that his playing structure was too rigid, and too many players were asked to play a position out of their comfort zone. And his spat with Mexico's best player didn't help either. Mexico's talent pool is too thin to shut a player with Carlos Vela's qualities out.
It would not be a World Cup campaign without a crisis. A World Cup without Mexico would be financially devastating, especially to the one FMF owner who matters most. And if he can do something about it, he will not hesitate.