In what many would deem a very weak move, Mexican National Team ex-head coach Juan Carlos Osorio decided to speak to ESPN Brazil about his team’s performance concerning the 2018 Russia, saying pretty much everything you can short of literally insulting a player or group of players, and he may have even done that. Almost two years have passed since Mexico’s elimination to the hands of the “Scratch de Ouro”, in what was undoubtedly a very poor and limited performance by the Mexicans, where they showed how far they are from the true world powerhouses in football.
As he was explaining his decisions on substitutions and style of play on the Sweden game which was the last group stage game, he came to the Brazil round of 16 match, where the ugly truth followed: “I asked them (the team), do you think we’re ready to face Brazil? The answer… Silence. And I said, ‘I’m ready.’ Why? Because I have prepared for 30 years, 40, to play against the best, but it’s very hard to transmit that way of thinking to the player, because it’s born here (touches his heart), from here (touches his head), to have the moral courage to play against the best teams.”
Then, after inferring that his players had never played important matches to be ready for a game of the magnitude of Brazil in the WC, he went on to say: “With the group of players that we had, the very good ones; Carlos Vela, Hector Herrera, Hirving Lozano. We needed others like Brazil have; Willian, Neymar, Gabriel Jesus, Couthinho. Very similar.” He went on to say that Mexico only has one truly good player in each position, while he named three or four of each of Brazil’s. When he got to the wing back position, he couldn’t name one quality player for Mexico. Osorio only mentioned that he had to transition Gallardo, who is originally a Left Winger into playing as Wing Back. He complained to ESPN that he didn’t have the quality or mentality of right players. If this last part is true, then why did he take the job in the first place?
Nobody is saying that what he metions is a lie, as we all know Mexico is not at the height of the best teams in the world quality-wise, but why would Osorio decide to speak now? Why would he speak up and send such an insulting message to his ex-players who allowed him to coach in his first career World Cup?
Does Osorio have a point? Absolutely. Was he right to bring it up in that way? Absolutely not. It’s a complete knock on 20 out of the 23 players on his WC roster. The funny part is that he claims that HE was ready. It’s interesting he’ll take the credit for beating Germany in the opening match, but not for losing to Brazil. It’s interesting when all he needed was a draw in the third match vs. Sweden to win the group, he decided to make offensive changes to try and beat Sweden, claiming he can’t play for a draw. Had he won the group, Mexico would’ve gotten Switzerland in place of Brazil.
So somehow, he was ready even though his team wasn’t? The Colombian can’t have it both ways. It is fully the coach’s fault when his players aren’t ready to play or don’t have a clear idea of what to do on the field of play, no matter what sport. That’s precisely the coach’s job; transmit the message and have the players ready. If he couldn’t even do that, then I have no idea what he was doing as NT head coach.
Looking back in retrospect, there was much more negative than positive in the just under three-year Osorio-era. Constant criticism over his extremely rare handling of the team in official tournaments by switching half of the starters from one game to the next, causing total uncertainty in players and everyone in general, for instance. And, despite Mexico not having a true identity and game style, they somehow easily qualified for the 2018 WC. Consistently neutral performances from the Mexican NT which left no sense of security or confidence were the norm during the Osorio era, with a couple of exceptions, such as the Uruguay victory in 2016 and the Germany WC win as well. But when it came time to face the important games in crunch time, Mexico crumbled consistently like they hadn’t in quite some time. The historic 7-0 loss to Chile in 2016, the upset loss to Jamaica in the 2017 Gold Cup semis, and the 2018 loss to Brazil in the WC. Mexico were never prepared for the big moment under Osorio.
Is all that the players’ fault? How did Mexico win a Confederations Cup in 1999? How did Miguel Herrera get Mexico to give Netherlands such a close fight in 2014 WC? And La Volpe vs. Argentina in the 2006 WC? And Lapuente vs. Germany in the 1998 WC? How wasn’t Mexico able to give a worthy performance or at least fight vs. Brazil? The coach is tasked with having to prepare and give a fight with what he has, not give excuses and only blame the players a couple years later. He was just not up to the task.
While Osorio’s statements may have some truth to them, he forgot to include himself as well in said statements, as a coach who was ready would’ve found a way to get the message across to his players and have them ready to play. The bottom line is if your players can’t confirm a question as basic as being ready to face a match, you’re failing at your job as head coach.