Sometimes it is easy to poke fun at Chivas and Jorge Vergara and the fact he has seen the need to fire coaches on 18 different occasions since taking over the club in 2002.
The most comical, looking back, was the decision to replace Jose Luis “Guero” Real after just five games without a win in the Apertura 2011, with the team in a playoff position and two points off first position.
Real left the club having lost just 19 of his 73 games in charge of the Rebano Sagrado. Before the season got underway, Vergara said Real had all the prerequisites to become the “Mexican Ferguson.”
In hindsight, it was the kiss of death. Things have never been so good since for Chivas. From the day Real left the manager’s hot-seat, the team has 17 wins, 20 draws and 30 losses in 67 league games, or 71 from a possible 201 points. That’s relegation form.
But Vergara is far from the only Liga MX owner who is trigger-happy when it comes to getting rid of coaches and the coach who has been in his job longest in Mexico’s top division is Tigres’ Ricardo “Tuca” Ferretti at just three years. It’s a symptom of the short-termism and the pressure for immediate results that clouds the Mexican game at club level.
Which brings us to Monterrey and the firing of 58-year-old Victor Manuel Vucetich following Saturday’s 3-1 away loss to Leon.
On the face of it, the club – expected to challenge at the top of the table this season – has endured a poor start to the Apertura season, winning just six points from seven games and sitting in 14th position.
It’s not been a positive start, but Monterrey is just three points from the playoff spots with plenty of points still to play for and with 13 players boasting full international caps at the club, you’d have thought that Vucetich would’ve turned it around.
The situation at Monterrey this season has hardly been ideal either, with Valencia taking advantage of a severe lack of foresight from directors to snatch Colombian Dorlan Pabon and the jewel of Los Rayados’ youth system Jesus Corona at loggerheads with the club over a move to Europe.
But every other team in CONCACAF has looked to Monterrey with jealousy over Vucetich’s reign and it looks like another rash decision in Mexico to get rid of a highly respected figure who could’ve established a legitimately long legacy at a club.
“The last three seasons have fallen below our expectations,” said Monterrey director Jose Gonzalez Ornelas at the Sunday press conference. “The decision is down to the commitment this club has of constantly meeting goals.”
Yet Vucetich has more than proved himself capable of meeting goals and will now be top of the list for any first division job that comes up.
His record for Monterrey reads 242 official games played, 113 games won, 67 draws and 62 losses over the four years. Over that time have come two league titles and a historic triple of CONCACAF Champions League crowns. Against archrivals Tigres, Vucetich only lost twice in 13 games and throughout his career has won 14 of the 15 finals to which he has taken his clubs.
Vucetich goes down as the most successful manager in the Monterrey’s history and was the number one choice of the Mexican federation (FMF) to take over the national team after the last World Cup.
The decision to fire him was even more perplexing when you consider the immediate future for Los Rayados. Vucetich was about to embark on his third Club World Cup this December, with the vital experience of the previous two in the bank; the club has money to spend with the sales of Pabon and Corona and next summer a new era begins for Monterrey when it opens a new 55,000-capacity stadium.
Surely stability is the prime concern for the club at this point and that isn’t taking anything away from incoming Jose Guadalupe “Profe” Cruz, who certainly has plenty of respect in Mexico, but nowhere the experience of Vucetich.
Maybe Monterrey will continue to succeed in the post-Vucetich era, but the lessons of Real at Chivas serves as a stark warning that sometimes you don’t know how good a coach really is until they are gone.