Once again, Mexico will usher in a new era and again it will start with a World Cup qualifier. Much like last August, a new coach will debut in a qualifying game in charge of El Tri and he'll either be crowned the conquering hero or will leave many wondering why a change was made in the first place.
Perhaps the biggest difference between then and now is that
Aguirre will jump into the fire quickly, as anything short of four points could be troublesome. If Mexico fails to beat either El Salvador on Saturday or Trinidad and Tobago next Wednesday, the finger will be pressed firmly on the panic button.
But there is hope. Aguirre is an accomplished coach who already pulled Mexico out of the abyss once. The roster is talented and focused, and players are fully aware of the stakes. There are some things, though, Aguirre should keep in mind to help smooth the transition into his upcoming matches.
Forget the hype; respect the statistics.
Perhaps Aguirre realized the uncertainty of the position by bringing in 36-year-old World Cup veteran
Corona, 28, should get his turn in goal against El Salvador and Trinidad. If things go well, he should have a chance at the CONCACAF Gold Cup next month. At this point, he provides Mexico's best option in goal.
Talented players don't always equate with strong leaders. For Mexico, leadership on the field has been a problem with some of the team's most talented players.
Suspensions hurt Mexico in the Hexagonal as three key players weren't available in the opener in February against the U.S., while Márquez wasn't available for either of the last two qualifying games either. With injuries keeping defenders such as
Soccer isn't just about showing up with the right people and expecting to win. In 2001, Aguirre and Mexico were products of a perfect storm. Aguirre stepped in to take over a desperate situation, pulled out several talented but unknown players, quickly threw together a foundation and found success. Boosted by
Things aren't quite as bad now as they were eight years ago, but much work remains before Mexico can live up to its own past and its own expectations. This situation has been created in part by the Mexican Football Federation (FMF) itself. By placing a lot of faith in, and then quickly souring on
The FMF threw millions of dollars away by sacking Sánchez and hiring Eriksson, but it also wasted valuable time that should have been spent further developing depth for qualifying. Sánchez had his own plan in terms of building a squad and transitioning out of
Aguirre has brought back some players who haven't been a part of the national team in several months, such as
This roster instability must change quickly if Mexico expects not only to qualify for the 2010 World Cup but also build a solid and deep roster for the short- and long-term.