Chivas skip the sublime, go straight to the ridiculous

Chivas players attempt to convince ref Fernando Guerrero that he was wrong to signal a penalty. Their arguments were to no avail. (Photo by Alfredo Moya/Jam Media/Getty Images)
Chivas players attempt to convince ref Fernando Guerrero that he was wrong to signal a penalty. Their arguments were to no avail. (Photo by Alfredo Moya/Jam Media/Getty Images) /
Chivas - Atlas
Things have not gone as planned for Marcelo Michel Leaño, the Chivas’ interim coach. Guadalajara is 0-1-2 since he took over. (Photo by Refugio Ruiz/Getty Images) /

Guadalajara’s midseason coaching change appears to have blown up in the faces of owner Amaury Vergara and GM Ricardo Peláez. Since jettisoning the veteran tactician Víctor Manuel Vucetich in favor of the excitable Marcelo Michel Leaño who favors a free-wheeling offensive approach, the Chivas have just 1 point from 9.

What’s worse, Guadalajara has not scored under Michel – the youth academy director who cozied up to Vergara and convinced him he could do a better job than Vucetich whose “dull” ways had the Chivas on a four-game unbeaten streak when he was axed.

Saturday night’s 1-0 home loss in the “Clásico Tapatío” is a bitter pill to swallow for Vergara (though Peláez might be smirking a bit since he was not consulted before the coaching change was executed), especially the way it occurred.

Defender Hiram Mier was red-carded in minute 14 after applying his boot to the face of Julio Furch in midfield. Fourteen minutes later, the host Chivas were down to nine men after Christian Calderón was sent off for taking part in a scuffle after Atlas converted a penalty kick.

Left to their own devices, Chivas stumble badly

Vucetich was sacked because the Chivas were seen as boring and fans demanded flair. Even though Guadalajara was efficient with “Vuce” in charge, the coltish Chivas were chafing under his leadership and his disciplinarian approach.

Although Peláez was already mulling a coaching change, Michel had Vergara’s ear and the images he painted of a marauding team playing the Total Football style made famous by Johan Cruyff and the Clockwork Orange Dutch teams of the 1970s won the day.

Out went Vucetich (after a win, mind you) and in came the precocious Michel just days ahead of the biggest game on the Liga MX calendar – América vs Guadalajara, the “Super Clásico.”

Though Peláez went to great pains to emphasize that the new head man was just an interim coach, he must have been concerned when the Chivas looked dangerous for the first 45 minutes against the Aguilas. If that momentum had held up, the GM might have had to swallow his pride and accept the young, glad-handing coach on a permanent basis.

But here we are, three games (and only seven days) later and Guadalajara has yet to score despite the wide-open offensive approach, while the frantic, all-out attack scheme has yielded big chances for opponents. If not for goalie Raúl Gudiño … the young keeper has stood tall between the pipes.

The most damning result, however, is the complete lack of discipline. Vucetich is a stickler for detail and he demanded submission to the strategy. Some of the younger players rebelled against the restrictive approach and, although the Chivas were earning points (they were on a four-game unbeaten streak when Vucetich was fired), they were not convincing enough for the owner or the fans.

However, in the three games in which Michel has been in charge, it has been the veterans who have failed to show maturity.

In the “Super Clásico,” veteran left back Miguel Ponce escaped a red card for applying a face rake during a scuffle with América’s Henry Martín. Against Atlas, veteran midfielder Jesús Molina – the Chivas captain – started the melee that led to Christian Calderón’s ejection, dropping Guadalajara down to nine men.

The Chivas were fortunate that Atlas played conservatively for the final 62 minutes, content to walk out of Estadio Akron with a 1-0 win (and ending a six-game losing streak in the “Clásico Tapatío”). Post-game talking heads were speculating that Peláez might be given the go-ahead to start interviewing managerial candidates, taking advantage of the two-week break in the schedule.

Whatever happens, Guadalajara must refocus and find a style that works for them. With only five games remaining, a wildcard spot is easily within reach, but just qualifying for the playoffs will not satisfy Chivas Nation.

Next. Atlético de Madrid makes easy work of Barça. dark

So, tune in later this month for the next episode of “As the Chivas Turn.”