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Javier Aguirre’s mindset could ultimately determine Rayados’ outcome

Victory wasn’t enough for ‘El Vasco’. He still expects much improvement from his squad, something all Monterrey fans have been waiting to hear.

Atlas v Monterrey - Torneo Guard1anes 2021 Liga MX Photo by Jam Media/Getty Images

Despite witnessing his squad see out a 2-0 season opening result over Atlas in Guadalajara on Saturday, Rayados head coach Javier Aguirre wasn’t pleased with his team’s showing. After a convincing first half featuring multiple scoring opportunities, including a wide open ‘swing and a miss’ by Vincent Janssen, Monterrey managed to put two on the board thanks to striker Rogelio Funes Mori to head into the half with a comfortable lead. Then, following a tremendous blunder by right-back José Abella, he was shown a red card with just over half an hour to go in the match. From that point on, Rayados became passive and even allowed for the home team to create a couple dangerous opportunities toward the end of the match.

‘El Vasco’ became aware of the situation and showed his distaste on the matter: “We didn’t function well, we didn’t play well, I’m not happy. I say this here because I already told the players, not for any other reason. We were incapable of reading the game, but we were a very organized and serious team, this is true and I have nothing in that regard to reproach to my players. But we can’t waste the opportunities we had or the 2-on-1 situations. We lacked in boldness. We should’ve been bolder with the ball, to the point where they were better than us with 10 men,” stated Aguirre.

A very differing message when comparing it to Mohamed and other previous head coaches Rayados have had in recent years. He even dared to mention that with the 1-0 score, he was thinking about making a few changes during the half, and it was the second goal that allowed him to send the same 11 players out to start the second half. Not many coaches would reveal that in a post-game interview. It sends a message to everyone, including the players, that if their expected level of play isn’t met, he won’t doubt subbing out said players.

When I look at a championship-contending team, self-criticism is key. If there is none, there is no way to see one’s mistakes, improve, and therefore, grow. And that is something Rayados have been lacking for a very long time. Aguirre promised he would sniff conformism out of this team, and in his short time there, so far he has. With every player knowing their coach won’t promise them a spot, that creates drive in most players. Many have said that if Rayados players had more drive, combined with their innate talent, they would have a lot more yellow stars above the logo on their jersey.

Ultimately, this could be the driving force and difference within this organization. With practically the entire roster from last season returning, with the addition of centre-back Adrián Mora, this team continues to be of championship-quality. The question is whether they have found the correct tactical and motivational leader. If Aguirre continues to drive the ‘no favorites’ mentality (unlike Mohamed), forcing every starter to earn their place, he might just force this squad’s real talent and quality out of them, possibly leading them on a deep playoff run come May.