After a bit of a hiatus, the gentlemen have returned to discuss the upcoming Liga MX season, the best story out of the Eurocopa, and Chivas’ shame spiral. Join Futmexnation’s Joel Aceves and soccerchronicle.com writer John Jagou for another edition of the Gentelemen’s Agreement.
Joel Aceves: Time to talk Liga MX which will be kicking off soon and the new 10/8 Rule has begun to take effect. Former Pumas striker, and U20 player, David Izazola has retired at 24 years of age. He released a letter claiming Mexican players aren’t treated fairly in Liga MX. Looking at the recent draft about 200 Mexican players were left without a club. Is this something to worry about or its just growing pains as the 10/8 Rule gets cemented in the league.
John Jagou: It would be interesting to see how many foreign players were left out in the cold. Jared Borgetti, a few weeks ago, lamented the fact that opportunities for Mexican players are finite, while foreign players get second, third, fourth, fifth chances. Couple that with the fact that national players have a finite number of days to work a contract out while foreign players are given a much bigger cushion. What the rule does mean, is that Mexican players are going to have to expect a very high level of competition for roster spots. In that sense, we could see players rise to the occasion. That may not be such a bad thing.
JA: There is no guarantee, however, that the players that do make it will be of high quality. The Premier League and the English national team has been our example as to which direction Mexico is headed. Well see a more dynamic league but a NT that struggles. It is my belief that the more nationals we have playing the more talent that we will naturally develop. The Argentine league expanded to 30 teams. They have a 3 player foreigner limit for their 23 man squads giving them a pool of 600 players for their national team to choose from. Liga MX with 18 clubs and about 10 Mexicans per team is looking at a pool of 188 players. And seeing how the 10/8 Rule extends to 2nd Division I feel that ultimately the league will fail to produce enough talent to make the Tricolor a top 10 team.
JJ: There is no question that a deeper talent pool would generate a greater amount of above average players. But the two leagues you cite have different objectives than Liga MX. First off, the Premier league makes no accommodations for having a minimum number of English players. It is not uncommon to see starting XIs with nary an Englishman, and it is why English players are sold at a premium.
Mexico mandates a minimum of Nationals on a gameday roster. England does not. Where the two leagues are similar, is that they are both importer’s leagues. Which is in stark contrast to the other league you mentioned: Argentina. The business model for most Argentine clubs is to develop players and sell them in the market. Transfer fees are their life blood. There are hundreds, maybe even thousands of Argentines playing all over the world. Look around any league. I would bet that Argentines compose the majority of foreign talent from the Americas. Even more than Brazil. And that doesn’t even take into account the Argentine coaches that permeate every league on the planet. I am not a big fan of the rule either, but without it teams could field a roster of foreigners and naturalized foreigners. Look at Xolos a few years ago.
Moving on to the Eurocopa, Iceland’s performance in qualifying for Euro and their run in the tournament itself has turned the model of how talent is developed on its ear. Less people live in Iceland than those that live within 4 square miles of you. England was humiliated (I am not sure why, they were beaten by a better team) and US fans are second-guessing their models.
JA: One word John: Consistency! This Iceland team was close to qualifying to the 2014 Brazil World Cup. You can say because of lack of a deeper pool they have had to maintain their same squad but that is a proven method of success. We have often talked about how recent World Cup champions all have one thing in common: a core group of players that play week in, week out, in the same squad. This is something England lacks given how their top teams are filled with mostly foreign born players. I’ve seen English Premiere League games were out of the 22 players on the field there are only 2 nationals.
As for the U.S. it seems like they have never been able to settle on a model even though they were quite good under Bruce Arena. Like Mexico the USSF’s fault lies in trying to find answers abroad.
JJ: People seemed to have forgotten that Iceland knocked off Holland in qualifying. They were a good side, but their lack of depth did them in against the French. Those were some tired Vikings in Stade de France. Les bleus n’ont pas perdonné. Regardless, people should now begin to realize that a soccer player’s most important characteristic is not necessarily being athletic. In a sport controlled by a foot, there will always be imprecisions. Technique, awareness, and intelligence should be the boxes ticked before athleticism. I am not saying athleticism isn’t important, but it should not be what coaches look for first. Oscar Pareja, the FC Dallas coach who has had a lot of success with his youth system, says it takes him a year to eliminate new players’ bad habits. He is all about teaching skill first. A lot of good players get overlooked in the US because they do not pass the eye test.
As for England, they, like Mexico had a lot of individual players who had fine seasons. But, like Mexico their coaching did them in. In this case, Roy Hodgson did little to adjust to the game. JCO over-adjusted. But you are right. Both Mexico and the US have the pieces, they just need someone to see it.
JA: Speaking of pieces the Mexican Football Federation has decided to bet on Juan Carlos Osorio’s project. Which leads us to two interesting questions. The first: will he continue to call up the European based players that broke down on him and second will he decide for a more manageable Liga MX squad? This comes along with the introduction of the *10/8 rule which has already given this upcoming Apertura season a record number of foreign player signings…and the transfer window has yet to close!
JJ: If Any Liga MX team with a base of Mexican players has success, then Osorio has to make that group the base of the national team. That will be a big if, though, as clubs appear to be facilitating the signing of foreign players. It is one of the reasons why I believe the national team’s best hope lies with a strong Chivas team. But as we both know, you more than me, if there is one team that is mismanaged more than Mexico, it is Chivas.
JA: This is how my beloved Chivas is currently being managed. The club has recently begun ‘restructuring’ and decided to release General Manager Jaime Ordiales and physiotherapist Rafael Ortega from their positions which duties will now be handled by the technical director Matias Almeyda! Now, I can understand the GM not being needed but Ortega is a former Chiva player and renowned doctor that specializes in football injuries. He loves the club to the point that he offered to still be of service. Seems a bit absurd to be placing so much responsibility on Almeyda who will leave if the right offer comes along.
We must also keep in mind that Chivas CEO Jose Luis Higuera doesn’t have any football experience and is even on record admitting to this. So, it’s scary to think what can happen if the team has a bad season or there is a falling out with Jorge Vergara. In the past the club was able to recover from slip ups because there was staff that cared about the team. People like Jose Luis ‘Guero” Real that Vergara could approach for advice. Now, we just have Mati as the only one that knows futbol and two wildcards in Higuera and Vergara. It’s a ticking time bomb.
JJ: And you didn’t even mention the best part: with all their dysfunction and incompetence, the club still maintains a strong allegiance with their fans. So Chivas rewarded their loyalty by forcing them to pay to watch home games.
JA: Agreed John, even more shameful is Higuera’s claim that because Chivas is fighting a relegation battle that the Club can’t afford to lose money by showing their games for free. It is a weak excuse given how much the club makes on television deals and sponsorships. As it stands the club is in danger of losing money on that front. Their main sponsor BIMBO won’t be renewing their contract after the clauses 2017 season whilst other sponsors will be waiting to see how Chivas TV plays out before signing any deals.
Higuera went on to say ‘the Mexico were everything is free doesn’t exist anymore.’ That really shows the disconnect Higuera, a banker and Americanista, has with the clubs fans the majority of which are poor. When I would visit family in Guadalajara my uncle would joke about his brother in law not feeding his family so he could have enough money to go to the stadium. And there’s some truth to that. Chivas fans haven’t gotten anything for free their support through thick and thin has kept Chivas relevant. Let us remind Higuera that football became popular when the rich lost possession of the sport.
JJ: It sounds like you are prepping the countdown clock for when the Chivas takeover by Carlos Slim becomes a reality. The pieces are starting to come together. Chivas appears to be negotiating almost exclusively with Grupo Pachuca (Of course, the cynic in me says that they are the only ones who are actually producing enough local talent to keep and sell) for players. At what point does Telmex or Sanborns become the shirt sponsor? How quickly will Chivas be airing games on Claro Sports? Those are the logical next steps. Chivas will become a Slim property whether we like it or not. But by the sounds of things, it appears that any option is better than the current reality.
I feel for Chivas fans, but they haven’t had much to cheer for anyway in the liguilla era. 3 League titles in 40 years is a sobering statistic if you are a goat with a penchant for red and white stripes.
JA: That’s a bold statement John. And I agree, it would be an improvement over Vergara whose overall history as club owner has left much to be desired. My one concern with a possible new owner will be on who will be appointed to manage the club. I’ve always been an advocate for allowing former players to remain involved with the institution to which they have dedicated their careers.
That said, this season will be key for Chivas as Higuera’s plan for the club begins to unfold. This Sunday Chivas will have a very important match against Veracruz: Liga MX Copa de Campeones which will earn the winner a spot in CONMEBOL’s Copa Libertadores which can help Chivas TV gain subscriptions. It would also be Almeyda’s trophy as manager.
JJ: I certainly hope things go well for Almeyda, even with all the extra responsibilities. I hear he is also the new podólogo. But a 3-game slide could make things very uncomfortable for him. His boss, after all, fired a coach despite the fact the team was 2nd in the table. But like I mentioned earlier, Vergara will be divesting his holdings in Chivas sooner than later, when pen is put to paper on his deivorce decree. It will be interesting to see when we meet the new boss, will it be same as the old boss.
But I am sure you won’t get fooled again.
JA: Nope. Hasta la proxima, Jon.
JJ: Keep the dream alive, Joely.