Guadalajara changed its coach on Sept. 26 and now is actively recruiting new front office leadership.
Though not mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, the Chivas are already taking key steps to prepare for the Clausura 2020 season.
Guadalajara team president Amaury Vergara took over the reins of the club from his father on June 24 and wasted little time in showing who was in charge. That same day, he dismissed controversial general manager José Luis Higuera and sporting director Mariano Varela inherited some of those responsibilities.
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Vergara had only joined the front office – as executive vice president – in August 2018, and Varela was seen as a vanilla executive. Varela and Higuera had upset Chivas fans by hiring Tomás Boy as interim coach last season, and further enraged them by signing him to a contract extension to stay on the job for the Apertura 2019.
“El Jefe” Boy had little success on the bench (the Chivas were in 16th place with a 3-2-5 record) and he was fired after a Matchday 11 loss at home to Pachuca. Luis Fernando Tena was brought in just days ahead of the Super Clásico, a game América won 4-1. In Tena’s second game in charge, Guadalajara gave up a late goal to the Pumas and settled for a tie.
As the Liga MX lulled into the October FIFA break, Vergara remained busy. Reports started trickling out that the Chivas were preparing to sign Ricardo Peláez to be the club’s new sporting director. Varela is still on the job, but his days appear to be numbered.
Peláez had success as general manager with América (the Aguilas won two league titles and a Concacaf Champions League trophy while he was there), served as sporting director for Team Mexico during the 2014 World Cup cycle, but had mixed success as general manager at Cruz Azul.
Chivas fans caught wind of the rumors and interest in the team’s future perked up. Published reports on Wednesday suggested Peláez was on the verge of stepping into the Guadalajara front office, but Thursday morning sports pages revealed that talks had hit a snag.
The Thursday afternoon soccer talk shows speculated that Peláez was asking for too much control (he had resigned from the Cruz Azul post, claiming he had been deceived, prohibited from selecting the Cementeros new coach last month). A Fox Sports panel reported that former Team Mexico coach Javier Aguirre was suddenly the preferred choice for the job, Peláez had fallen to No. 2 and long-time league executive Néstor de la Torre had earned an interview too.
The panel wondered how Aguirre could have moved ahead of Peláez in the pecking order, after all “El Vasco” had not coached in Liga MX in 18 years. Since leaving Pachuca in 2001 to take the Team Mexico ahead of the 2002 World Cup, Aguirre has coached in Europe, led El Tri to the 2010 World Cup, and managed two other national teams (Japan and Egypt). He does have a Chivas connection, however. He played 181 games for Guadalajara at the tail end of his career (1987-1993).
Still, most pundits believe Peláez is the best choice for the job. Chivas goalie Raúl Gudiño spoke up in favor of Peláez when asked about the situation by reporters.
This is a decision that the Chivas can’t get wrong. It is unlikely that “El Flaco” Tena will be asked to stay on after this season ends and the club most certainly must be active in the winter transfer market if they want to escape the relegation zone.