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Veljko Paunovic steps down as Chivas coach

No word yet on who succeeds him, but all signs point to Fernando Gago.

Chivas v Cruz Azul - Torneo Apertura 2023 Liga MX Photo by Simon Barber/Getty Images

Veljko Paunovic has announced his resignation as head coach of Chivas de Guadalajara. After getting the job just prior to the 2023 World Cup, Paunovic had an incredibly successful first season when he took Chivas all the way to the Liga MX final of the Clausura 2023, but a rocky following season concluded with him calling it quits. No word yet from Chivas on who would succeed him, but rumors are strong that it will be Fernando Gago.

With new sporting director Fernando Hierro taking control of Chivas, his move to get a coach went through Europe. He would decide on Puanovic, who had success by winning the 2015 U-20 World Cup with Serbia. He had less success at the club level, but his start with Chivas was as good as it could get. Paunovic took a Chivas side all the way to the Liga MX final, including a great victory in the semifinals against rivals Club America. Unfortunately for him, they looked favored in the final against Tigres, especially after a scoreless tie in the first leg, but gave up a 2-0 lead at home to lose the final 3-2.

The disappointment of that loss would lead to a very chaotic Apertura 2023 where Chivas had a great start, but then faltered. A lot of pressure fell on Chivas after losing the Superclásico against América by a 4-0 score, but they bounced back somewhat to get to the liguilla before losing out in the quarterfinal against Pumas. Yet what marked the season more was a number of clashes between players and the coaching staff. Alexis Vega, Cristian Calderon, and Raul Martinez had been deemed to have violated rules in their visit to Toluca and were suspended indefinitely. There were also rumors of clashes with Victor Guzman, who went from a key player in Chivas’ final run to ending up benched in the Apertura 2023. Rumors had come out that Paunovic was going to quit in the middle of the season and take the job at Almería, but he remained with Chivas. Now he announced his resignation that Chivas accepted.

Chivas haven’t officially named the successor to Paunovic, but rumors are strong that it will be ex-Argentinean international, Fernando Gago. Gago had a great career as a player with clubs like Real Madrid, Roma, and Valencia. As an international with Argentina, he was part of the squad that finished 2nd in Copa América in 2007 and 2015. His biggest achievement was being part of Argentina’s 2014 World Cup squad that also finished 2nd. He also won a gold medal in the Summer Olympics of 2008. As a coach, his career has been more limited with only a short spell at Aldosivi and another one at Racing Club. Chivas would be by far his biggest job, although there were rumors he was also in the running for the job at Cruzeiro. Chivas might announce his hiring as early as today.