A day after Mexico secured its 8th overall CONCACAF Men’s Olympic Qualifying Championship title by defeating Honduras in a penalty shoot-out 1-1 (5-4), Victor Manuel Vucetich sat down for his weekly press conference today and took questions regarding a couple of difficult subjects. He just so happened to respond to said questions perfectly and on the way exposed the reality of how things are in Mexico.
The first topic covered in the press conference was regarding the six Chivas players who participated in the Olympic Qualifier and showed a better performance than what we’ve been used to seeing in Liga MX under Vucetich’s guidance. As always, there are people who believe the blame should be solely on Vucetich and his work with Chivas, when in reality, it’s the other way around. Vuce had this to say; “I think they’re different circumstances that are in play in the Olympic Qualifier. They’re inferior categories than that of a First Division, and the players are used to high performance matches in First Division with other high caliber players... because the competition level (in the Olympic Qualifier) allows them to grow with the skills they have because they’re great players and it shows in another way.” He finished his remark by commenting that one can’t compare both tournaments side by side, as one is very different from the other.
For some reason, people have failed to see that players can be successful at an U-23 level (such as the Olympic Qualifier) or any other age group for that matter, and that doesn’t necessarily translate in any shape or form into a successful senior squad career. And that’s what has happened with this generation of Chivas players. While they’re still young and have room for both growth and improvement, they’ve shown an inability up to this point to maintain consistency in their game and have therefore been unable to lift this team to bigger and better things. But to suggest Vucetich is the one to blame is jokeworthy. This franchise has proved incapable of putting together a quality team over the past decade, and to even hint that another coach would do better with this limited group of players is unfortunate proof of how underappreciated Vuce really is.
The conversation then shifted to the possibility of him losing his job as Chivas head coach if they fail to make the playoffs this season, as they sit dangerously 16th overall (1 point behind 12th place Pachuca); “Our position is always at risk. I’ve lived in this profession for 33 years, and since the first day, it’s been about the exact same things; I know results are the base for continuity. There are many circumstances and we need to learn to understand them and read them,” Vucetich stated. He went on to explain how projects such as the one Tigres have entrusted and backed Tuca Ferretti with despite a couple forgettable seasons is to be greatly admired. He believes that is the point clubs’ front offices must reach if they wish to have the desired growth and development in every aspect of Mexican football.
He happens to be absolutely right, again. The way the season’s format is made up in Mexico, where teams have just 17 matches to prove their worth and make the playoffs, has led clubs to make much more desperation and precipitated moves, sacking coach after coach in favor of a squad that wouldn’t work no matter who they brought in to take charge. For some strange reason, they believe short term success and making the playoffs for a season will make up for a possible long-term project that could’ve been developed and provided much more sustained results had they been more patient. This happens constantly in Mexican Football, as every season we see a coaching carousel going round and round, and it’s usually the same teams who go for this destined-to-fail strategy.
Words of wisdom by ‘Rey Midas’, no doubt. A couple of great takes on current situations, and clearly subjects that are very controversial within Mexican Football. If Chivas can’t bring in two or three quality Mexican players who can form somewhat of a backbone, El Rebaño Sagrado will continue to float in mediocrity no matter who the coach is. That’s why Almeyda’s accomplishments were so noteworthy, as he did a lot with very little. And regarding the other subject, I don’t believe clubs will change this “sack the coach” easy way out as long as the season format remains the same. A long season would give teams time to trust their respective projects and let them develop to a certain extent. But this short season simply doesn’t allow for a bad streak of results. Few are the teams who back a coach through a rough stretch of results, and thus stunting players’ growth, as well a project reaching its full potential.