When Miguel Herrera left Tijuana to return to Club América, the expectation was that he would once again lead the club to a Liga MX championship. Las Águilas had fired Ricardo La Volpe after the club failed to make the Liguilla in the 2017 Clausura, and “El Piojo” was brought back to take a good club and repeat the success he had in the 2013 Clausura.
Initially, Herrera brought in some of the players he had in Tijuana that he saw potential in. Central defensive midfielder Guido Rodríguez’ prescient ability to disrupt an incoming attack and casually start a counter made him Herrera’s biggest signing, but he was also able to wrestle away American midfielder Joe Corona, center backs Emanuel Aguilera and Carlos Vargas, and forward Henry Martín. While it’s unclear if Corona’s loan will be extended, Piojo has been able to turn Martín from a bench player into a possible choice to represent Mexico in the 2018 World Cup.
More recently he’s brought in former Paris Saint-Germain forward Jérémy Ménez as well as Colombians Matheus Uribe and Andrés Ibargüen. Young players Edson Álvarez and Diego Lainez have flourished under Herrera’s tutelage.
But all is not well in Mexico City. While these are victories for Herrera and for the club, the fans are becoming impatient at the club’s inability to bring home another trophy. The timeline for Herrera to deliver on his expectation was accelerated (if not for the board of directors then certainly for the fans) when arch-rivals Chivas won the 2017 Clausura championship and the 2018 Concacaf Champions League.
The accelerated expectations may however have exceeded a reasonable time frame. Liga MX isn’t a one-horse race like the Scottish Premiership. There are usually four or five teams that have a legitimate shot to win the title at the start of the season, and this season has seen unparalleled parity with thirteen teams that were in the running for a playoff spot in the final week.
América was never going to just coast to a victory, and their 4-1 drubbing at the hands of Santos Laguna was harsh proof of that. In fairness to Santos, Estadio Corona TSM has been a fortress this year for a team that has been absolutely unstoppable at times. Robert Siboldi’s side played América perfectly and deserved their win on Thursday.
Americanistas expect excellence from their club, and to be fair excellence has been thus far delivered. Herrera is certainly the most talented Mexican manager and one of the overall best in the league, and replacing him with someone of his pedigree and understanding of Liga MX would be nearly impossible. Even if América isn’t able to move on against Santos, they might not want to move on from Piojo Herrera.