Ten days after firing Diego Alonso, Rayados management turned back the clock and hired Antonio Mohamed who led the team to two finals.
Antonio Mohamed is back in Liga MX, taking the vacant Monterrey job just 17 months after leaving the Rayados. “El Turco” has been eager to return to the Mexican sidelines and was mentioned prominently for recent openings, including Cruz Azul and the Chivas.
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It will not be an easy task for Mohamed who must restore confidence to his beleaguered former team. The Rayados are stuck down in 14th place, though they are only 2 points out of a playoff spot, after going 1-1-4 in their past six matches. That streak included a 2-0 home loss to bitter rivals Tigres.
Monterrey boasts one of the league’s highest payrolls and was considered among the preseason favorites to wear the crown, but the club lost its first two games (4-2 at América and 1-0 at San Luis) and never really got on track. The Rayados are 5-1-7 on the season (16 goals for and 19 goals against) and have a dismal 1-1-5 road record.
Monterrey at a crossroads
With only five games remaining, the Rayados must turn things around quickly, and they shouldn’t require a lengthy adjustment period. Mohamed knows most of the key players on the roster and they know his tactical preferences. His first test will come at home against the Chivas.
“El Turco” will need to inject some offensive cohesion to this troubled team. After finishing last season with the league’s No. 2 offense (33 goals), Monterrey is on pace to finish with only 23 goals this season. It would be a significant boost if playmaking midfielder Rodolfo Pizarro could stay healthy. Pizarro is currently in training camp with El Tri ahead of two Nations League matches.
The offense has been out of sorts, in part, due to subpar seasons for captain Dorlan Pabón and winger Avilés Hurtado (who is out long term after tearing his Achilles). Star striker Rogelio Funes Mori has also been firing blanks, earning only 5 goals (after scoring 11 last season). Funes Mori has also had trouble adjusting to his new strike partner, Dutchman Vincent Janssen.
Mohamed has two Liga MX titles on his resumé, winning the Liguilla with Tijuana (Apertura 2012) and with América (Apertura 2014). He took Monterrey to two finals, losing to Pachuca (Clausura 2016) and the Tigres (Apertura 2017) while posting a 62-33-34 record while in charge of the Rayados from January 2015 through May 2018.
Oddly enough, he lost the Clausura 2016 Final to Diego Alonso, the man he replaces on the Rayados bench. That season, “El Turco” led Monterrey to the No. 1 seed with a dominant regular season, finishing 7 points clear of second place Pachuca.
Monterrey won the Apertura 2017 Copa MX trophy under “El Turco.”