El Tricolor have turned to old coach Javier Aguirre after Sven Goran Eriksson’s disastrous tenure.
By Martin Del Palacio Langer in Mexico City
Following the disappointing reign of Sven Goran Eriksson, who lasted just 10 months in office, Mexico have opted for a complete change of direction. Javier Aguirre, the new coach who is in his second spell at the helm, is the very antithesis of the unpopular Swede.
In his first press conference, Aguirre, who left Atletico Madrid earlier this year, used colloquial Mexican slang – in complete contrast to Eriksson’s attempts to master Spanish. He made it clear that the days of Scandinavian pragmatism are gone for El Tricolor.
“We will play our arses off from the first day,” he said. “We need a huge attitude change and I will give a new identity to the national team: guts and effort. We Mexicans never stop fighting and this case will be no different.”
But Aguirre warned that he was no messiah, adding: “I am only a Mexican among millions, I am not a saviour.
“I don’t wear a superhero’s uniform, I came here to join a group and to convince people that we can do it together. There is no coach in the world who can win on his own.”
The man they call “El Vasco” first took the national team reins in 2001 following the disastrous reign of Enrique Meza. With no margin for error to qualify for the World Cup the following year, Aguirre completely revolutionised an ageing and unmotivated squad and managed to book their ticket to Korea and Japan with a famous 3-0 win over Honduras in the last round of qualifying.
The current situation is far from being as hopeless as it was then, although under Eriksson, Mexico defeated Costa Rica before losing in the USA and Honduras, where El Tricolor traditionally suffer.
Aguirre’s re-appointment is likely to see the side return to a traditional short-passing game rather than the direct, English-inspired model Eriksson tried to impose.
Aguirre has also promised to put an end to the divided dressing room inherited by Eriksson with feuding between domestic veterans and European-based youngsters.
The first challenge for the new coach will be in El Salvador on June 6.
As for Eriksson, his bad Mexican experience doesn’t seem to have affected his reputation in Europe, where several clubs appear to be interested in hiring him this summer.
In the meantime, he can enjoy the £2.7million he earned in his 10 months in Mexico City.