Part 2 of 2: León just set a new record for most consecutive wins, surpassing the mark that had stood for 47 years. Now club owners have decided to do some record-setting of their own.
On Monday, we learned that Robert Dante Siboldi (pictured at top) is out at Veracruz, becoming the 10th Liga MX coach to leave his job, setting a new record for most coaches replaced in a short season.
The previous record was set less than two years ago when 9 coaches were sacked during the Apertura 2017 season.
Here’s a review of the most recent five coaching switches to take place during the Clausura 2019 … thus far. For a look at the first five coaches pushed out the door, click here.
Toluca and Atlas issue pink slips
Hernan Cristante was on the hot seat early in the season as the Diablos Rojos were blanked three games in a row after a 2-0-0 start. The winless streak stretched to 7 after yet another shutout and Cristante – a legendary goalie for Toluca – was asked to leave. In came Ricardo La Volpe, a 67-year-old coaching veteran whose first job as a manager was back in 1983. “El Bigotón” has coached 16 teams, including El Tri (2003-2006) and was brought back from Egypt (where he was managing Pyramids FC) to take over the reins at Toluca … again. La Volpe was in charge at Toluca in 2001-2002. Since taking over from his former goalie for the Matchday 10 contest at Necaxa (a 1-1 tie), “El Bigotón has gone 2-2-1 and has the Diablos Rojos sniffing the playoffs, 4 points behind eighth-place Tijuana.
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Next to go was Guillermo Hoyos at Atlas, pink-slipped after a 2-0 home loss to Cruz Azul on Matchday 10. Hoyos was in a no-win situation, to be honest. He took the job last season when Atlas was 0-2-6 and had gone the first seven of those games without scoring a goal. Hoyos led the Zorros to a 2-3-4 finish and then started the Clausura with a bang, going 3-1-2 and climbing as high as fourth place. Then came the Clásico Tapatío followed by a spiral downward. The Chivas routed Atlas 3-0 and the Zorros lost the next three as well. That was enough for Atlas general manager Rafa Márquez and he hired Argentine Leandro Cufré, giving him his first head coaching gig. Cufré was an assistant coach on the Santos team that won the Clausura 2018 title. With the Zorros, he has won 2 of the 4 games for which he has been on the sideline.
Chivas, the soap opera
The Chivas tweaked their roster before the season, bringing in young Toluca striker Alexis Vega, defender Hiram Mier and midfielder Dieter Villalpando, then won their first three games to climb into 2nd place. Over the next eight games, Guadalajara won only once and after the Chivas lost twice in four days to América, coach José Cardozo’s days were numbered. A 2-1 loss at UNAM followed and Cardozo was kicked out the door, replaced by interim coach Alberto Coyote who was a coach in the Chivas youth academy. Rumors started flying that Chivas SEO José Higuera was recruiting a big-name coach in Europa and names were dropped. Some players – particularly those who came up through the academy – voiced their preference for Coyote, but it was not to be.
On April 10, Guadalajara announced the signing of Tomás Boy, a 66-year-old curmudgeon who had not coached in 3 years after a 28-year coaching career marked by controversy and outbursts. He once famously labeled the Chivas “a loser franchise.” Later, Chivas ownership said Boy had only been hired to finish the season and an illustrious coach would be hired for the Apertura 2019. Of course, we heard that same story when Jorge Vergara took over the club in 2002 and now the Chivas have had 27 coaches in the past 17 years, none of whom rise to the level of “a big-name manager.”
But more than the instability at the top, the Chivas roster is poorly constructed. In part because management dismantled the team that won the Apertura 2017 title and the Concacaf Champions League crown last year because team leaders publicly complained about ownership’s refusal to pay promised bonuses. In a fit of pique, Higuera and Vergara sold off the vocal players and the team began to sink in the standings. Cardozo was unable to lift up the troubled squad and off with his head. The Chivas will probably kick off the Apertura 2019 with relegation concerns, but it’s easier to blame the coach than to accept responsibility for one’s errors. So tune in over the summer for the next episode of As the Chivas Turn.
Siboldi preceded by his successor
Santos won the Clausura 2018 title under Roberto Siboldi but when he scuffled with a player early in the Apertura 2018 season, he stepped aside and Salvador Reyes took over. “Chava” Reyes led the team to a fourth place finish but the Guerreros were bumped out of the playoffs by Monterrey in the first round. This season, Santos has been inconsistent and after climbing as high as 5th after Matchday, they stumbled badly. The team went 0-1-3 in the league and was hammered by the Tigres in the Concacaf Champions League semifinals. Ownership decided it was time for a change and sent Reyes packing after a 1-0 loss at lowly Atlas followed by the 3-0 loss to the Tigres. Reyes was 10-9-7 in his 26 games as Santos coach. Rubén Duarte took the reins as interim manager for two league games a tie and a loss while Santos came up short in the second leg of the CCL semifinal, defeating the Tigres 3-2 but going out on a 5-3 aggregate. Now Uruguayan Guillermo Almada is in charge and he’ll coach his first game at home Sunday against Querétaro.
The new league record was set when Robert Siboldi announced his resignation as coach of the shipwreck known as the Tiburones of Veracruz. His decision was made rather easy after Pachuca demolished Veracruz 9-2 in their Matchday 14 clash. The winless Tiburones (0-4-10) have already “earned” demotion and are mired in last place after finishing in last place last season as well. Siboldi had taken over before this season (after rejecting an offer from Necaxa) knowing that Veracruz was likely headed for relegation, but the understanding was that ownership would pay the 120-million-peso buy-in fee to remain in Liga MX. So Siboldi figured he’d try to survive a season-long disaster and start fresh ahead of the Apertura 2019. But the reality of the situation was too much to bear. Veracruz owner Fidel Kuri is constantly in trouble with national soccer federation officials and on Monday FIFA handed down a points sanction that officially stripped the Tiburones to 0 points (for failure to pay compensation fees to a Uruguayan club). José Luis González China will act as interim coach for the Tiburones.