He has gone a long way from being a Manchester City cone-setter to coaching Mexico’s national team.Newly minted coach, Juan Carlos Osorio, fresh off a weekend of seeing a handful of Liga MX games, has jetted of to the Old Country to have a chat with the players who will likely form the Tri’s base as they take the field in a game that really matters next month. Mexico will open Russia 2018 qualification with a home game vs El Salvador before traveling to San Pedro Sula a few days later.
So it is probably not such a bad idea to put a name to a face before those games, hence the trip. The question is, couldn’t he have just gotten in a google hangout to do the same thing?
Perhaps, but a tête à tête is so much more personable. And, frankly, it looks great. For an organization that thinks that P and R are just two letters that follow each other in the alphabet, good publicity is more accidental than consequential. So what will he accomplish, if anything, on his whirlwind tour of Europe? Will he promoting his twitter account like one of his predecessors?
If Juan Carlos Osorio left any kind of impressions after his introductory press conference, it is the fact that he is a very studious and serious man. So it would be no surprise that he takes the same approach while on tour in Germany, Spain, Portugal, Holland and Italy. He can find out first hand how much gas Rafa Marquez has left in his tank. Why Hector Herrera’s level of play has taken a nose dive over the past month. He was reportedly crushing on Miguel Layun, is he comfortable being a wingback in a line of 4, or is he better suited for the midfield, and if he is, where does that leave the Little Prince?
People will have opinions on the necessity and outcome of the the trip, but the reality is Osorio has taken the initiative, at least when compared to the last coach who was in his position. Sven Goran Ericksson was also in the unenviable position of having his first game be an official qualifier. He had a few weeks to watch the locals, and sent one of his assistants to observe in Europe. The calendar was unkind to SGE – he got that awful August FIFA date – where his player pool was just getting their feet wet in a new season. The Swede played his hand with inexperienced teenagers and was bailed out by the old guard in the end.
Osorio does not have a generational transition like SGE. What he does have is the luxury of a base of players who have taken the field together for the past few years. Time is not on his side, which is why his best move may be to take a page from the guy who won him the chance to play a few extra games in June 2017, Tuca Ferreti. Before Tuca played the US, he got a lot input from his players in regard to how best to play vs the US in the Blazer Bowl. Se sufrió, but they got the result. Expect more of the same in November.
So in the end, will it be worth it, this European tour? It couldn’t hurt.