Two coaches have been fired through four games and a third change was narrowly averted.
We might soon need a scorecard to keep track of the new coaches in Liga MX.
Pachuca fired Pako Ayestarán after the Tuzos were routed twice in their first three matches and UNAM dumped David Patiño on Sunday after the Pumas failed to win any of their first four games.
At the bottom of the standings with four straight losses to open the Clausura 2019 schedule is Querétaro, but when the Gallos Blancos players heard management was preparing to fire Rafa Puente, Jr., they leaped to his defense and he gets to stay on another week. His reward? A trip to Estadio Azteca to face América.
Added to this are three other names: Guillermo Vázquez, Robert Siboldi and Oscar Pareja. Those three coaches took over jobs during the winter break: Necaxa, Veracruz and Tijuana, respectively.
Sharpening the axe
With the Clausura 2019 barely at the quarter pole, we could see a third head roll within a week. But if Querétaro loses to América on Saturday and management sacks coach Puente, they’ll have to share the blame.
The Gallos Blancos saw star goalkeeper Tiago Volpi leave to play at home in Brazil and they traded central defender Hiram Mier. As a result, the defense is vulnerable and León exploited their advantage early and often on Saturday. The 4-0 home loss was a bitter one for Gallos Blancos ownership.
But they lost key players and did not find adequate replacements. Volpi – one of the best goaltenders in Liga MX – was replaced by veteran Nicolás Navarro, a second-tier keeper, at best. In the back line, 33-year-old veteran Diego Novaretti has stepped in for Mier but he is a shell of the player he was when he played with champion Toluca in 2010.
The 39-year-old Puente has won plaudits for his tactical preparation and the work he did with the Gallos Blancos last season when he guided them to a playoff spot on the final day of the season.
Before joining Querétaro in May 2018, Puente had coached Lobos BUAP to the Ascenso MX championship, winning promotion to Liga MX in May 2017. He stayed with the Lobos until getting fired in April 2018, though the club managed to avoid relegation.
The carousel spun in Apertura 2018 too
This early activity comes after a relatively tranquil start to the Apertura 2018 season.
The first coach to get canned last season was Atlas manager Gerardo Espinoza who was dismissed on Sept. 3 after the Zorros opened their season 0-2-6 and did not score their first goal until the final game that Espinoza was in charge. Guillermo Hoyos was installed as a stop-gap but his 2-3-4 record to close out the season was enough to keep him on the job.
Before Espinoza was pink-slipped, two coaches had resigned: the aforementioned Siboldi (after Matchday 3) and Vázquez (following Matchday 4).
Siboldi walked away from defending champion Santos after a fight with a player over playing time and training habits. And by fight, you should understand fisticuffs. Reports suggest that Siboldi and fellow Uruguayan defender Gerardo Alcoba came to blows. Salvador Reyes took over the reins for the Guerreros and led them to a third-place finish.
Vázquez abandoned the Tiburones and later claimed that Veracruz ownership had fallen behind on wages and was short-shrifting the league by utilizing “double contracts,” a nefarious practice that helps the club avoid paying some taxes. Hugo Chávez saw out the season for the Tiburones.
León manager Gustavo Díaz who was sent packing after a Matchday 9 loss to Santos that left the Esmeraldas with a 3-1-5 record. Ignacio Ambriz took his place and remains in charge.
Next to lose his job was Necaxa’s Marcelo Michel after a 2-0 home loss to León and their new coach, Ignacio Ambriz. This came less than a month after yet another 2-0 home loss to Ambriz and León in a Copa MX elimination game. The kicker? Necaxa had fired Ambriz before the start of the season to bring in the 31-year-old Michel and evidently losing twice to Nacho was too much for management to accept. Jorge Martínez finished out the season but was not retained. The Rayos appeared to have the inside track for Siboldi, but after he opted to sign with Veracruz, Necaxa settled for Vázquez who coached UNAM to the Clausura 2011 title and led Cruz Azul to the Clausura 2013 Copa MX crown.
Finally, the last coach to get sacked last season was Tijuana’s Diego Cocca, fired on Oct. 30 after the Xolos fell out of the playoff picture following a Matchday 14 loss to the Pumas. Frankie Oviedo was on the sidelines for Tijuana’s final three games.