Another lukewarm performance is what the Estadio BBVA crowd got to witness from their team last night, as Rayados hosted Atlético de San Luis in their third home game of the season. San Luis came in to last night’s match second to last in the league table, with one win and five losses on the season, accounting for just 3 points. Rayados on the other hand, came in with only one win in four league matches, not to mention having embarrassed themselves in the Club World Cup just two weeks ago. In other words, any result other than a win was unacceptable for Javier Aguirre.
Getting off to an unexpected start during the first 20 minutes of the match, Rayados outran San Luis, grabbing possession of the ball and created three extremely dangerous opportunities, most notably Funes Mori’s wide open one-on-one shot with the keeper which he sent well wide of the goal after Ponchito González fed him the ball perfectly. But that was it. For the remaining 70 minutes, Rayados fell back into that passive state we’ve grown so used to seeing them in as San Luis took full advantage of their inefficiencies and burned Monterrey on a couple counter-attacks with their speedsters.
In fact, it turned out looking exactly like the performance you’d expect after watching Aguirre’s Friday pre-game press conference, as he gave out cynical after cynical response to every question regarding his job security, especially after the display we saw in Abu Dhabi and the bad string of results from the start of this season, dating all the way back to the last one. El Vasco seemed disconnected in the press conference, as well as lacking energy and patience, and was unwilling to answer anything related to his job or his players’ low level of play, not to mention results.
Let’s be honest. This team had already peaked months ago under Aguirre. After failing to advance past the QF in the Guard1anes 2021 and falling out of the top 4 at the end of the Apertura 2021, barely making the playoffs as the 9th spot overall, failing to again get past the QF round, the level of intensity has clearly worsened and mostly realiable players (Janssen, for instance) have stopped producing. Funes Mori has reached a new low since joining the club. More than anything, the club continues to struggle against these end of the table teams such as Querétaro and San Luis, and should’ve lost the Cruz Azul game. Completely unacceptable with the high-end cost this team has.
Aguirre had lost complete control of this team. With El Vasco now gone, it leaves a group of many talented, yet hungerless players who float around on the pitch and at times look to play with no desire. Now, rumors have swirled with the return of their golden era head coach, Victor Manuel Vucetich. But just how much would any coach, whether Vuce or anyone else, be able to achieve with the current roster? They have the talent to turn it around and even find their way into a top 4 spot, considering they still have two games in hand. It would be a failure to finish outside of the top 8. But would I expect them to win a title? No. Would I expect them to contend? Not really. With clubs like Cruz Azul, Tigres, León, and newer ones such as Puebla and Atlas now proving their strength and consistency, I find it hard to believe they can overcome those gritty teams come playoff time. But only time will tell.
With all of this being said, the reality is that only 50% of the problem has been solved. The other half represents their club president, Duilio Davino. A lack of leadership usually presents results such as the one we see today. Five years, four different coaching tenures, and a club’s morale left in shambles definitely represents a lack of leadership. And this is despite him winning a league title and a couple CONCACAF Champions League. As long as he remains, expect the players to eventually fall back in to their current state, as they’ve followed the same trend with every new coaching tenure. What Rayados need is to shake up the front office, bring in someone willing to clean house and demand results from their expensive payroll players and head coach, as well as develop a sustainable system of play, something that hasn’t happened in over five years now. Until then, Rayados will continue to struggle and lack that killer instinct we once saw under Jorge Urdiales back in the day.