In a series of moves that surprised absolutely no one, the FMF announced a new Org Chart earlier this week. But how much will change when the same ol' señores are pulling the strings, albeit from different positions on the stage?
The buddy system is alive and well in Mexico. Newly appointed Prez Decio de Maria brought in his one of his besties, former National Team director and Necaxa co-owner, Memo Cantu as General Secretary. The joke about Cantu's tenure was that he was nothing more than a glorified travel agent during his term. He only had 4 coaches hired and fired in his tenure. Cantu will assume the role of General Secretary, where his decisions will be final, pending approval of the 15 team owners (well, 3 or 4 really important ones).
Hector Gonzalez Iñarritu goes back to head up the officiating. He only dealt with the hiring and firing of 7 coaches in his term, but 3 of those were "ceremonial" selections - if that makes the sentence appear any less crazy, please let me know.
The National team director has been split into 2 positions. A sporting and operations director. Former Piojo Herrera assistant Santiago Baños, who has spent his entire post-player career as an assistant, was named the Sporting director. A bold move, to be sure, as long as it wasn't given to him to make up for the fact that his previous boss, Miguel Herrera, left him involuntarily unemployed. At least they have someone who played the game heading up the sporting side.
Fernando Cerrilla, a former Televisa employee (aren't they always?) moves into operations director - or the glorified travel agent, if you prefer.
There you have it. These sweeping moves will ensure that Mexico maintains its position they covet most: the Giants.
The Giants of profitability. No national team prints money like Mexico's. Why would they want to mess with that?
The pressing move, of course is to hire a national team coach. Cantu has a little checklist and hopes to find a guy who ticks all the boxes. "(We are looking for) a veteran coach who understands the business side and works well with young players." Isn't interesting that he mentioned the business side before what he can do for Mexico on the field. At least he has his priorities straight. Giants of profitability.
The cynical translation of all this, of course, is that that the coach that is almost certain to take the helm (and ticks all the boxes) is Ricardo Lavolpe. Remember that buddy system? Cantu played for Lavolpe in Atalnte, where the coach had his only title in 30+ years of club play. Baños is a Lavolpe disciple, like his former boss. Lavolpe was the last coach who managed to not get fired in a World Cup process. He was the last coach to make through the Hex without any real drama (what people tend to forget was Mexico's insanely easy path to the World Cup, which is why they made it "caminando"). It all makes sense. Time to pull the trigger.
Except for one small problem. Those pesky club owners. Two of the heavyweights, Chivas Jorge Vergara and Grupo Pachuca are dead set against it.
Vergara had hired Lavolpe to be his relegation savior, but the veteran, business savvy coach who works well with young players tried to get a squeezer from one of the club's physical therapists. They parted ways.
Grupo Pachuca has been trying for the better part of the last two years to lasso Marcelo Bielsa. They are one of the few owners who believe that a long-term investment on the sporting side would help the profit margin. They would love to see Bielsa lay down a foundation to do just that. One tiny little problem: El Loco ticks all the boxes except the "business" one. He won't grease sponsor palms, shoot spots or make appearances at the new Deportes Marti. And has been very critical of the business side of Mexican soccer in the past to boot.
And that, my friends, is the conflict. Will FMF sacrifice short-term profits for long-term gains, or will it just be the status quo. One only needs to look at their "re-organization" for the answer.