After a disastrous Apertura 2019 campaign, the Cementeros are poised to make big changes ahead of the Clausura 2020.
The Apertura 2019 was a season to forget for Cruz Azul. Not only is the club still chasing its first Liga MX title since December 1997, but the Cementeros did not even qualify for the Liguilla. For a team with the fourth-highest payroll in Liga MX, that is unforgivable.
Lest we forget, the Cementeros actually won two pieces of hardware this season (the SuperCopa MX and the Leagues Cup), but there is no denying that this was a disastrous season for Cruz Azul, both on and off the pitch.
No team spent more money during the summer transfer window than Cruz Azul. The club shelled out 17.5 million dollars in an effort to end their seemingly interminable league title drought.
Paraguayan defender Juan Escobar was acquired for 6.8 million dollars and midfield playmaker “Pol” Fernández cost 4.9 million dollars. Neither was a major factor, but the definition of panic-buying is illustrated by the deadline date acquisition of Ecuadorian striker Bryan Angulo for 5.8 million dollars. Angulo rarely saw the field and when he did, he contributed little.
On the field, the Máquina Azul finished the Apertura with just 5 wins (that comes to about 14 million dollars spent on wages per win). They also squandered leads in six games, settling for ties in five of them while giving up a goal in minute 90+3 to lose at Tijuana after grabbing a 2-1 first-half lead.
Coach Pedro Caixinha was fired after a 1-1 tie with the Chivas on Matchday 8 left the Cementeros with a 2-4-2 record. That’s when Cruz Azul’s front office chaos came to the fore.
While general manager Ricardo Peláez interviewed candidates, former team executive Víctor Garcés came out of the woodwork to proclaim that he would be making the decision on the new coach. All hell broke loose as the Cementeros’ dirty laundry got tossed about in public and Peláez resigned.
The new/old front office settled on former Santos coach Robert Siboldi while allegations of corruption, embezzlement and shady front office dealings made headlines. The Liga MX home office even announced that Garcés was not registered as a team executive and would not be recognized as such.
Initially, Siboldi did a good job deflecting questions about the front office chaos, but after seven weeks his excuses ran thin. Eventually, he stopped blaming his predecessor (he argued that coach Caixinha had run a lax summer training camp and the Cementeros lacked fitness), as his results did not measure up and the team finished 3-4-3, in 12th place and 4 points out of a playoff spot.
Overall, the situation was so bad that fans stayed away in droves. Average attendance at Estadio Azteca for Cruz Azul home games was a pitiful 17,764.