Liga MX: Should Club America move on from Miguel Herrera

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - SEPTEMBER 30: Miguel Herrera, Coach of America during the 11th round match between America and Chivas as part of the Torneo Apertura 2018 Liga MX at Azteca Stadium on September 30, 2018 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images)
MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - SEPTEMBER 30: Miguel Herrera, Coach of America during the 11th round match between America and Chivas as part of the Torneo Apertura 2018 Liga MX at Azteca Stadium on September 30, 2018 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images) /

Since returning to coach Club America in May 2017, Miguel “Piojo” Herrera’s results have been adequate. Adequate is not good enough for Las Aguilas.

Miguel Herrera has recently acknowledged it could be the end of his tenure if Club America do not win the title. He’s not wrong. Expectations are high for the club they call Los Millonetas (the millionaires), and while America hasn’t finished outside the top three in the Liga MX table since his return, fans are wondering if there is someone better out there to help them take the next step towards their first league trophy since the 2014 Apertura.

It’s easy to expect too much from a manager, especially when talking about Club America. The players on the pitch need to finish their chances and the quality of the opponents makes a difference, as well, of course. But having won the 2014 Apertura, the 2014-15 and 2015-16 CONCACAF Champions League trophies after Herrera left to coach Mexico, America has stagnated since his return.

Through 69 matches in his second stint with Club America, Piojo has a record of 31-23-15. His first go-around with America saw him go 44-23-17 in 84 matches. A quick look at the two records shows that he has drawn and lost nearly the same number of games in 69 matches as he did in 84 before becoming the manager of El Tri in October of 2013. Something isn’t working this time around.

Whether it is lineup questions, substitution decisions or just questionable tactics, the way this version of Club America plays leaves Americanistas pulling out their hair. To see the quality of players on the pitch struggling to put it all together is maddening. It is almost hard to see them winning matches and staying near the top of the Liga MX table, because it papers over the cracks that are evident with the Herrera-led side.

Looking at the records

Piojo is a fine coach. I don’t mean to diminish what he’s been able to do and brush aside the fact that America is in a good position today. However, when you consider the areas America has struggled, a quick look at his career brings up concerns.

Removing his tenure with Club America and Mexico, Herrera has 418 matches under his belt as a club manager. His record in those matches is 161 wins, 113 draws, and 144 losses.  That gives him a win percentage of just 38.5%, though the percentage of matches with at least one point is 65.6%. Compare that with his America tenure. In 153 matches, he’s amassed 75 wins, 46 draws, and 32 losses. A win percentage of 49% and a points percentage of 79.1%! Combining all his club managerial career gives him a career win percentage of 41.3% and a career points percentage of 69.2% and one trophy.

For comparison sake, going back to 1996, when he was manager for Chivas, Ricardo Ferretti, whose Tigres will face America this weekend, has a win percentage of 43.6% and a points percentage of 73.1% and 12 trophies across a career with five different clubs.  His career looks a lot like Herrera’s two full years with America.

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To me, Herrera’s career shows him to be a decent coach, propped up by being at the helm of one of the biggest clubs with one of the deepest pocket-books in Mexico. Is that good enough for the Mexican giants and their supporters? It doesn’t appear that way.

He came to America the first time, promising results in six months. He delivered. This time around he needs to get a result in a year and a half. It’s looks like it will be a struggle.

What is good enough?

If you aren’t an America fan, it is fair to ask. What is good enough for Club America? Winning titles every single tournament is not a realistic expectation to put on a manager. Yet there is some expectation that simply finishing in the top 3 of the table every tournament isn’t good enough. Even making the Liguilla semifinals, as America has done consistently under Herrera, is not necessarily the standard of success.

This Aperutra, especially, has been a mind-numbing mix of great performances that make America look like the team to beat, and frustrating matches with beatable opponents that end in draws. The problems Americanistas have with Piojo’s decisions are not changing, nor should we expect them to, at this point. He coaches the way he coaches.

True, the most important thing to fans is wins. This is why Herrera needs to win the league title. If the football is not great, you can’t just be good enough to be there, you have to win.

Who fits?

As with any coaching situation, you often don’t know how good you have it until the coach is gone. It’s easy to say “Coach Out!” when you don’t have to make the decision about who will be better for the club.

Obviously, there is no way to know who would actually achieve the results intended, but there are a couple of names I wouldn’t mind seeing America look at.

One is Roberto Siboldi, the former Santos Laguna manager. Before his sudden resignation from Santos Laguna, “Flaco” led the club to its 6th Liga MX title.  Siboldi has experience in youth development, winning in Liguilla and implementing a style of play that was enjoyable to watch. His may be an under-the-radar name that doesn’t get a ton of traction due to his relatively small resume, but the performance of the 2018 Santos Laguna team means Siboldi deserves at least a look, in my mind.

The other name I’d be interested to see roaming the America sidelines is the current Atlanta United coach and rumored El Tri candidate, Tata Martino. A former attacking midfielder from Argentina, Martino implements a style of football that is enjoyable and effective. Maybe he’d be able to bring Josef Martinez and Miguel Almiron with him, who would certainly help America’s issues with finishing, though they may be Europe-bound soon. The soon-to-be 56-year-old has been across the world and coaching at a high level. Barcelona, Argentina, and Paraguay are some of his managerial resume high-points. He’d be a nice fit if he wanted the role.

Herrera Out?

Ultimately, Piojo could make all this talk of a new manager go away by willing his club to a league title. Doing so would buy him time, at least, and validate his decisions, at best. With the 2018 Apertura approaching its finish-line, whatever he needs to do to get the club on track needs to happen soon. Otherwise, we’re likely to see a new face in the Club America manager’s jacket.