Mexico post-Herrera: Few answers, many questions as El Tri moves forward

5 Comments

Fifteen; By the time El Tri president Decio de Maria (right) names a successor to Miguel Herrera, there will have been at least 13 full-time and two caretaker managers of the Mexico men’s national team since 2000.

That number could be higher if Mexico names an interim boss. Given their track record, they might name two, as the Federation of Mexican Football has proven itself capable of just about anything.

There’s a good chance Herrera deserved to be out-of-work or at least suspended for a long while if the stories that he attacked TV Azteca journalist Christian Martinoli are true. But there also seems something potentially fishy about the firing, as the bombastic coach has been canned less than a year after he nearly led Mexico to a knockout round upset of the Netherlands (And what if Arjen Robben hadn’t hit the deck in stoppage time?)

[ MORE: Herrera fired as Mexico boss ]

Herrera’s 2015 saw El Tri post seven wins, seven draws and three losses. Those wins include the 3-1 win over Jamaica in the Gold Cup final, while the losses include the 2-1 decision against Ecuador that cost them the knockout stages of the Copa America in Chile (Mexico also drew Bolivia and Chile in finishing last in Group A).

He took over on Oct. 18, 2013, days after Mexico’s World Cup hopes were kept alive by the USMNT’s Graham “San” Zusi. Mexico’s “Hex” finished with just a pair of wins and a stretch run of three losses in four games. El Tri was a mess.

In came Herrera, who oversaw a dismantling of New Zealand in the intercontinental World Cup playoff. That got him the job through the 2014 World Cup, and he built the squad back into fine form before the tournament. There were wins over South Kore and Ecuador, plus a 3-2 win in the Netherlands.

And Mexico made it through Group A of the World Cup, drawing Brazil and beating both Cameroon and Croatia. Herrera’s bunch made life very hard on the Netherlands in the knockout rounds, leading 1-0 until the 88th minute falling 2-1.

All said and done, Herrera lost just 7 of his 36 matches in charge of El Tri, but the FMF was ready for him to go. Many fans joined the fray after this iffy Gold Cup win (which was still a win).

So what now? Who takes over the ship, one in which the majority of the hands reportedly liked playing for Herrera? From a Gold Cup victory, controversial or not, comes a decision that seems to pin its hopes on a batch of players who would hope to impress a new boss.

It’s similar to what happened before the New Zealand matches, only that change came from tremendous failings. This comes from an airport fight, one that the players will seemingly know all about as first-hand witnesses and second-hand peers. Mexico, like the United States, holds its national team to otherworldly and likely unrealistic standards. Is a new name really going to push the right buttons quickly to fix it, or will it just beget another new name?

This new boss will be making critical roster decisions for a group of players aching for the chance to be in the squad. Will the new boss be okay with his players participating in MLS, as Herrera was, or will he look down on Erick “Cubo” Torres and Giovani dos Santos? Will he be inclined to stick with the Gold Cup winners, or drastically shake things up? Can cohesion occur under this new boss than the USMNT under Jurgen Klinsmann after a disappointing Yanks’ Gold Cup run?

Mexico could go to the same domestic Liga MX well that drew out Herrera — Pedro Caixinha has produced several El Tri players from Santos Laguna, and the same can be said for Pachuca boss Diego Alonso — or they could go foreign. Another option will be international veteran, and could fired Portugal boss Paulo Bento fit the bill? Here’s a total wild card: David Moyes, who coaches Carlos Vela and Diego Reyes and Real Sociedad.

In any event, the who question is almost less important than the how long, as in, “How long until the powers-that-be get tired of the new guy?” Whether Herrera punched Martinoli in the neck or not, Mexico’s status quo is change. Consistency continues to elude the CONCACAF power, and this time it could cost them a major tournament.