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Miguel Herrera’s demons have him on precipice of being sacked

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When he was a player, Miguel Herrera’s blonde mullet accentuated his piquant naughtiness, mixed in with a nasty mean streak. He was dogged, hard-working, and one of the peskiest defenders in Mexican soccer during a greater part of the 1990’s. Although diminutive in stature, his intense nature made him a fan favorite. Yet it was his demons emerging from that mean streak that became his eventual downfall.

As a coach, Herrera still exudes that fiery nature but he’s combined it with a quick wit and a jocular personality (as well as an abundance of passion) that made him one of the most beloved individuals in Mexico.

How quickly things change.

Back in April, I had the pleasure of interviewing Miguel Herrera in Mexico City. The scene was perfectly set at the Centro De Alto Rendimiento (Mexican FA’s training ground). At that moment, it seemed that Mexican soccer was in a peaceful place. Everyone was smiling, and Herrera cracked jokes at times while the press laughed in unison, which was strikingly reminiscent to the canned laughs you hear in old sitcoms.

While my conversation was brief, it was still extremely telling in hindsight. One of the questions I asked him was what his “best mistake” was. What I meant by that was a mistake that taught him a great lesson where he ended up benefitting from it in the long term.  He candidly spoke about the time he was with Atlante and that infamous fight he had prior to the World Cup.

That same fight was that one that virtually ended his international career. He told me that fight taught him to control his emotions and not allow them to get the best of him. He remembered that incident vividly and told me how it marked him as a player. It would be that fight that many would revisit after this latest scandal that could cost him his job.

Our conversation was brief as he was quickly whisked away in order to speak to various sponsors present. He would then join a US-based radio program, then he got ready to attend an event near the Zona Rosa in Mexico City where the most popular wax museum in the capital was ready to unveil a statue of the Mexican national team coach. He was on top of the world.

Excesses are usually not a good thing. Wherever he went, he was asked for. Whoever asked for him, he tended to them in a gracious manner. In the end, that attitude, in addition to his commercial and coaching obligations, took a toll.

This type of accessibility was praised highly by the Mexican press. Why? Well, he was the antithesis of of Nestor De La Torre’s drier and even less sociable demeanor.

Through all the praise that Herrera won from the media on both sides of the border, he did lose touch with a very harsh reality of Mexican soccer. When scrutiny came along, the popularity became taxing and his sense of infallibility became greater.

Herrera talked about not calling up players “for the sake of taking them away from the US” and “Mexico had 90 players” he could choose from to make a callup list. He was taken to task quickly. In retrospect, that was one of the first moments when you had an indication that the tide was turning against Herrera.

He then talked about there not being a Mexican A or B team for two tournaments this summer. A few weeks later, he gave the guarantee that Mexico would be playing in the final of Copa América. Unfortunately for Herrera, Mexico came up short as El Tri were knocked out of the group stage for a second consecutive tournament.

Those performances in Copa America saw him arrive to the Gold Cup with tremendous pressure on his shoulders. It was a win-at-all-costs attitude that the Mexican had and their form did not help at all. Their form was accentuated by the team’s behavior after matches when they did not address the media and Herrera’s demeanor turning combative with the Mexican press.

But it would be his non-football related attitudes that would start to truly begin to signal the downfall. For example, his tweets where he supported a political party during the elections in Mexico.

Yet through all the obstacles Herrera experienced this summer, the writing was slowly written on that proverbial wall.  Tinkering with players, playing them out of position combined with the team’s overall sluggish play (sans favorable calls) had “El Piojo” within the cross hairs of the media. The problem was, he constantly fired back.

These actions lead to the decline of his popularity and possibly his demise as coach.

When it was least expected, Herrera’s demons that harmed his playing career struck again. This time it was TV Azteca commentator Christian Martinoli who would be on the opposite side.

Herrera and Martinoli had their spats on social media and bumped heads on various occasions based on disagreements in the recent past. Yet all of this escalated when Herrera threatened the journalist by allegedly saying that “they would meet in an airport” and they would “settle things.” No one would have imagined that resolution would be achieved by hitting anyone in the back of the neck or shoving someone in an airport line.

What does the future have in store for Herrera? We’ll see what the verdict will be after the coach meets with officials later this morning. As of right now, the talk is that Miguel Herrera will become the fifth coach in less than two years to coach El Tri.

There is only one thing that a person has to know about this topic. Herrera violated Article 3 of the FeMexFut code of ethics.

“Any person that holds a position or fulfills an activity directly or indirectly related to FMF and federated football, adheres to the principles and obligations within the current Code of Ethics, therefore, cannot argue lack of knowledge or non-existence of judicial interest as a defense adopting beginning or commencement of activities, with dignified conduct, authentic and integral that will avoid infringing on the principles within this Code.”

Just like in any other profession, violations of ethic codes are sanctionable with termination. Unlike any other job, though, few come with the demands of Miguel Herrera’s.

After this last fiasco within the Mexican national team, it doesn’t only show that Miguel Herrera was consumed by a job that crushed four coaches that preceded him in the span of a month.

It will probably be the last piece of business that the lame duck president Justino Compean makes before leaving on Saturday due to “personal reasons,” or as many would call it “the ghosts of FIFAGate creeping in”.

There have been several reports saying that Herrera would be sacked by today, although there has been an incredible amount of silence within the federation. It’s quite worrying for a federation that finds itself mired in controversy after winning a title in such a dubious manner while all of CONCACAF is still feeling the effects of the FBI investigation. Now the question is who will do the sacking? Will it be Compean or will it be incoming president Decio De María?

At this point, the CONCACAF playoff in October between Mexico and the United States is the least of Mexico’s worries. Herrera accomplished his objective of winning the Gold Cup. But the most ironic part is that he has only had a few hours to celebrate before facing the sack for his behavior in the airport and not the results on the pitch. Those demons, once again, got the best of him.

 

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Smokey Bacon

    July 28, 2015 at 8:01 pm

    Klinsmann out, Hererra in!

  2. NeilO

    July 28, 2015 at 1:48 pm

    CONCACAF is a rat nest of corruption. No cure for this cancer in the enforceable future. Herrera’s anecdote is a tool used to focus attention away from the fraud the Mexico-Panama game was.

  3. erico

    July 28, 2015 at 12:33 pm

    A great writeup, especially for me who hasn’t kept track of all this backstory. The only thing I wish might be included/added are links to more of the events described, even if they are in spanish. I can read spanish but googling in spanish is tougher than I thought lol, as it took me quite a while to find out more about his political tweet, just as an example.

    • Christopher Harris

      July 28, 2015 at 12:49 pm

      There’s a link near the end of the story to a video from Univision that was filmed in the airport.

      • erico

        July 28, 2015 at 1:04 pm

        I saw that, and I did follow the links provided. I just would have liked to see links about Herrera’s accessibility compared to his predecessor, his comments about taking players from the US, his pre Copa America comments, some links to the fiery exchanges referenced by the author.

        Yeah, I’m showing my laziness lol, asking for stuff I could probably find on my own. Its just harder than I thought, sleuthing in spanish;)

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