After 17 games an anticlimactic 1-1 draw at Queretaro finally closed the curtain on the Apertura 2017 for Pumas UNAM. The best way to describe the season Pumas had is in the famous words of Tweety and Jorge Vergara “I Tawt I Taw a Puddy Tat” or “Me pareció very un lindo gatito”. A toothless and declawed Puma is harmless and that is what we saw this past season. If fans are shocked or surprised by the failure of this season, then they haven't been paying attention the past few years.
Club president, Rodrigo Ares de Parga was very clear at the beginning of the season when he said that there was no money to buy good players, so they settled for mediocre reinforcements. The coaches Pumas has had in recent years have all come in knowing that they are going to receive only the bare minimum of support from the board and the administrators. They are told that they must rely on the cantera for most of their reinforcements. Unfortunately the cantera has not produced high quality players for a few years, the last being Hector Moreno. Paco Palencia loved the club and was a decent coach but he was not experienced or good enough to bring lasting success. He was let go after six games this season. Sergio Egea has been an assistant for most of his career, there is a reason for that, he is not good enough to be the main man. He lasted five games before resigning. David Patiño the former coach of Pumas Morelos and several other lower division teams was put in charge after Egea quit. Patiño coached six games and managed only one victory and six points total. The club has settled for mediocrity in leadership and the results on the field have also been mediocre.
By the numbers
Readers might feel that this article is too critical or pessimistic so let’s put opinions aside and look at the basic facts. They say that numbers don’t lie and the numbers for this past season are not kind to the team. Pumas finished in last place in the table with only 13 points. They only managed to score 14 goals, tied for the lowest in Liga MX. They had 3 head coaches in one season and not one of them managed to turn things around. They managed to only win 3 games at home, CU used to be a very difficult place to play for visiting teams. They are in 12th place in the “cocientes” table, another season like this and relegation starts to become a real concern. It would be sad to see a great club with great fans, like Pumas, playing in the Ascenso MX.
Turning things around
The fans are showing their displeasure, the stadium is rarely ever more than 1⁄3 full. Even the most faithful barras are showing less enthusiasm. It is going to take a major shakeup starting at the top to change the direction of the club. The administrators and the board have to be held accountable for their mismanagement of the club. The coaches and players have to be reminded that they represent one of the most important teams in Liga MX. Fans have to be demanding but they also have to be patient. It has taken a few years to fall to this level and it is going to take some time to get out of the hole.
America, Chivas, Cruz Azul, and Pumas are considered the “grandes” of Liga MX because of their history, championships, and number of fans. In order to remain a big club standards have to remain high and the results have to be mostly positive. The balance of power in Liga MX is shifting; clubs like Pachuca, Tigres, and Monterrey are spending large amounts of money, investing in their clubs, and their infrastructure. The historically “big” clubs cannot relax because they they won’t be on top forever. Let’s hope that Pumas gets the message and wakes up before it is too late.