We’re still a long way from the Clausura 2023 season. Two months to be exact, as it usually goes. With the new season slated to begin on Thursday, January 5, 2023, we know many things can and probably will change compared to how they are today, no matter what managers or front office executives say.
But one thing that must be said is the fact it’s worrying when a club has been stuck in the mud for a few years, and after a change in president (or leadership), the first comment is to confirm there’s no intention of any drastic change, especially when it’s clear the club is well short of its ultimate goal.
Yep. I’m talking about José Antonio ‘Tato’ Noriega, Rayados’ new club president. In an interview just a couple days ago, when asked regarding striker Rogelio Funes Mori’s transfer status, he had this to say: “Rogelio is in our plans, as he should be. He’s a historic figure in this club, so of course. He’s a National Team player, he’s going to play a World Cup. I don’t see where this rumor or circumstance comes from, but Rogelio is part of the squad, definitely.”
Después de sus primeras reuniones con Vucetich y el Consejo, hoy charlamos con el Presidente de @Rayados.— Diego Armando Medina (@DiegoArmaMedina) November 1, 2022
¿EL FUTURO DE @rogelio7funes?
Así de contundente respondió el ‘Tato’
¿Están de acuerdo con él? @TUDNMEX @TUDNUSA pic.twitter.com/oL4jrv89cD
Tato, didn’t you get the memo?
Funes Mori’s exit is the main announcement Rayados fans and have been expecting for at least a couple seasons now, if not more. But this past season just has to be the last straw. Or so we thought. Yes, he’s Rayados’ all time goalscorer and has proven he has the required quality and skill to be a good striker. He can score with his head and feet, can pass the ball, can serve as a post. We get all of that. But the fact he’s consistently disappeared over the past years when it’s mattered most, not to mention his injury woes over the past year, is just a reminder that all cycles eventually come to a close. And this is clearly the case for the Argentine player.
The past two seasons have just been brutal in terms of what Rayados have gotten from him. Funes Mori only saw action in 7 matches during the Clausura 2022, scoring just 3 goals in that span. He missed the club’s last 11 matches (10 regular season) due to injury, including their Repechaje PK shootout loss to Atlético San Luis. And the Apertura 2022 wasn’t much different; after playing in the team’s first 9 matches (scoring 4 goals), he was sidelined with what is said to have been a muscle injury for the next 7 matches, and was left on the bench in the final regular season match against Pachuca. And despite playing in all four liguilla matches, he came on as a sub in three of them and was mostly ineffective throughout, scoring a meaningless goal against Cruz Azul, and most notably wetting the bed in the first leg against Pachuca, missing a wide open shot inside the box and a PK which would’ve tied the score.
In other words, out of the 34 possible regular season games in that span, he only played in 16 (less than half). And even in the Apertura 2021 where he played in 14 games, he only managed to muster 4 scores. So, 11 regular season goals over the past 3 seasons combined. And if you thrown in him being a non-factor in the playoffs, that’s just another reason why it’s time. Not to mention, he turns 32 in March. By no means am I saying he’s old, but he has shown clear signs of decline over the past year and a half in the very least. It might just be time for a fresh start. Period.
To add on to all of the above, the fact they just brought in Berterame, Aguirre, and Rojas for last season, coupled with the fact Duván Vergara will be ready for the start of the new year, Funes Mori might simply be the odd man out in the equation. But to say he should stay just because he’s the all-time scoring leader in franchise history is just negligent.
Just because ‘Tato’ mentioned Funes Mori is in the club’s plans for next season is by no means a guarantee it’ll become a reality, but it definitely does tell you one of two things: 1) Noriega just doesn’t see the reality of the situation; 2) Noriega is merely being used as a puppet to execute what Ornelas and the rest of the board really want. I tend to think it’s the latter, but whichever the case, not good news for Rayados as this club clearly needs a shake up if it plans on achieving a league title anytime soon.