This has been a bizarre few weeks, even by Mexican Gold Cup standards.
One would think that Mexico winning the Blazer Bowl would be a time to celebrate, right? But here we are, in the wake of another fired coach. And this time the details are indeed sordid. Miguel "el Piojo" Herrera" is out as Mexico's coach, less than 498 hours after lifting the Gold Cup. It is no wonder Televisa has such a huge stake in the Mexican National Team. The day-to-day events have more incredulous plot twists than any of their most melodramatic of novelas.
Despite collective poor play, cries of corruption & collusion after some favorable decisions, injuries, & suspensions, Mexico managed to play their best game of the Blazer Bowl in the final vs Jamaica. The 3-1 win had clinched Mexico's 7th goal cup. In those 7 wins, Mexico had outscored their opponents 22-3. Miguel Herrera was stoic in the post game presser, with the understanding that there was still plenty of work to do.
The players probably would have echoed the sentiment, were it not for a self-imposed ban n talking to the media after what they felt were false reports of the details of a players only meeting. Off they marched past the mixed zone to the buses, vow of silence unbreached.
And then yesterday morning, while getting ready to board the plane back home, Miguel Herrera, the eternal hot head, blew his top.
He allegedly smakced TV Azteca's Christian Martinoli in the back of the neck (after he said he would on twitter) while his daughter Mishelle slapped Luis Garcia, Martinoli's broadcast partner. Herrera later went on to threaten Matinoli in the airport security line.
The genesis of this little spat came to us in Chile, where Miguel Herrera and Martinoli got into a twitter spat after Herrera bloviated about his team's chances in the tournament. It did not help, though, that Martinoli (you may remember him for his commentary during the World Cup qualifying during Mexico's loss vs Costa Rica), lobbed insults toward Herrera and his family -- calling them the Mexican equivalent of white trash, among other things.
Think about that for a minute. This is a rights holder (TV Azteca), that wants to provide an alternative to Televisa's coverage. They are fun and irreverent - and the ratings suggest that people like it. They are also mean-spirited, caustically critical, and insulting. For a rights holder to do that is also inexcusable. But it brings in ratings, so it is tolerated, therefore, encouraged.
Regardless, it does not in any way excuse Herrera's actions. Add to the list of self-inflicted wounds that ultimately caused his demise. Let's go over them:
- It started just before Copa America with his proselytizing tweets in favor of the Green Party. Whatever goodwill he had with the fans was gone in an instant.
- He followed it up by defending his stance, while most of the public was convinced he had gotten paid to take this political stand.
- Before Copa America, Piojo stated that he believed he had a team that could "win it all." They finished the tournament 11th out of 12 teams, and Herrera was red carded in the definitive loss vs Ecuador.
- During the tournament, he responded to Christian Martinoli via twitter asking him "to step outside and settle differences."
- And then there was yesterday's ruckus.
Unforced errors, the lot of them. Add that to the fact that Herrera had no answer for the defensive-minded posture he saw in the Gold Cup - no goals in 3 consecutive 90 minutes brought back bad memories of 2013 WCQ.
These were among the reasons that I was bearish on Mexico for the Blazer Bowl. A coach who was cracking and a team that historically does not respond under pressure were not a good mix. Herrera, did manage to turn it around, and for that he should be given a lot of credit.
Herrera's actions yesterday are inexcusable, and they put an end his tenure as coach. It is not uncommon for short fuses to bring forth their demise, after all. But that's the part that, frankly, I just don't get. And it goes back to several discussions I have had with folks here at BigSoccer and beyond. FMF's PR department (if they even have one) is a farce. Crisis management, especially for an organization that generates crises as at the drop of a sombrero, is an absolute must. Sure, they put the kibosh on Piojo's tweeting, but why on earth did they let him enter the airport when they knew the other guy was there? Moreover, why on earth does FMF even fly commercial? What is the point of having the official diarrhea medicine of the FMF if you can't leverage it into a charter plane? Think of all the adspace you can sell.
Miguel Herrera is an affable guy, a player's coach who loves the spotlight. But his judgement and his temper did him in. It's not the first time. And Mexico will start again. It's definitely not the first time for that. They have had 10 coaches since 2006.