Coaching carousel spun crazily during Clausura 2022

Fernando Ortiz (right) shakes hands with Monterrey head coach Víctor Manuel Vucetich before Ortiz's debut as Aguilas manager. This week, Ortiz was presented as the new Monterrey boss. (Photo by Alfredo Lopez/Jam Media/Getty Images)
Fernando Ortiz (right) shakes hands with Monterrey head coach Víctor Manuel Vucetich before Ortiz's debut as Aguilas manager. This week, Ortiz was presented as the new Monterrey boss. (Photo by Alfredo Lopez/Jam Media/Getty Images) /
Liga MX coaches CL22
Atlético de San Luis head coach André Jardine (left) greets León manager Ariel Holan before an April 9 Liga MX match. Jardine led the Tuneros to the playoffs after taking over in February while Holan was forced out in late April as the Esmeraldas’ season collapsed around him. (Photo by Cesar Gomez/Jam Media/Getty Images) /

Owners get managerial changes (mostly) right this time

Nine clubs changed managers during the Clausura 2022, but most of them got it right. Six of those teams went on to qualify for the Liga MX playoffs.

It all started after Matchday 3 when Atlético de San Luis canned Marcelo Méndez. Rafael Fernández served as interim coach for one game (a stunning 3-2 upset of América in Estadio Azteca) before the club brought in Olympic Gold medal-winning coach Andre Jardine. The Brazilian led the Tuneros to a 6-2-5 record and a 10th-place finish, good for a wildcard date against Monterrey.

Necaxa acted next, axing Pablo Guede after an 1-0-3 start including an Opening Day loss to FC Juárez a team that ended up with three wins on the season. Worse yet, the Rayos were .

In came Jaime Lozano, the man who led Mexico to a bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics last summer (losing to Jardine and Brazil in the semifinals, by the way). “Jimmy” led “Los Electricistas” to a 7-2-4 record and the No. 9 seed. Necaxa will face Cruz Azul in the wildcard round.

Querétaro also made a change after Matchday 4, sending Leonardo Ramos packing following the team’s 0-2-2 start. Former Toluca manager Hernán Cristante was hired but he was unable to lift the Gallos Blancos out of the doldrums. A 3-6-4 finish left The white Roosters in 16th place.

Two weeks later, Pedro Caixinha was pink-slipped by Santos Laguna after the Guerreros were unceremoniously dumped out of the Concacaf Champions League by modest MLS club CF Montreal At the same time, Santos was also in the Liga MX cellar with a 0-2-4 record and had conceded 14 goals.

Grupo Orlegi promoted Eduardo Fentanes, the club’s youth academy director since 2018, to interim manager. Fentanes started 4-1-1 with the Guerreros but a late-season fade (0-2-2 from Matchday 13-16) saw “Los Laguneros” drop out of playoff contention. He probably won’t be retained on a full-time basis.

Even big names came up short in Liga MX this season

Javier Aguirre was the next victim. “El Vasco” wore out his welcome with Monterrey after the preseason favorites stumbled out of the gate while also embarrassing themselves at the FIFA Club World Cup, getting eliminated by a short-handed Egyptian team, El Ahly, whose stars were playing for Egypt at the African Cup of Nation.

The fact that Aguirre had complained about a lack of talent after being eliminated in the quarterfinals of the Apertura 2021 even though the Rayados boasted the largest payroll in Liga MX rubbed ownership the wrong way. The poor start and rising discontment among the fan base prompted the move.

Víctor Manuel Vucetich took over (Hugo Castillo served as interim manager one game, a scoreless draw against León) and the Rayados promptly won three straight, climbing back into the playoff race. Monterrey struggled with injuries down the stretch, however, and settled for a No. 7 seed.

Cañoneros, Aguilas salvage their seasons

As the Liga MX neared the halfway point, five coaches had been fired, but Matchday 8 results produced even more bloodletting.

Mazatlán FC sacked Beñat San José after the team’s 2-1-5 start. The Cañoneros were in danger of slipping into “Relegation” territory (Liga MX does not relegate teams; instead the bottom three in the Relegation Standings pay a hefty fine).

Christian Ramírez was plucked from his post as Mazatlán’s youth academy director as a stop gap before Gabriel Caballero was hired. The former FC Juárez coach guided The Purple Gang to a fantastic finish – winning the last four games of the season – to claim the franchise’s first-ever Liga MX playoff berth.

That same weekend, Liga MX giant América fired Santiago Solari. The proud Mexico City club was in last place with a 1-3-4 record and the former Real Madrid coach had lost the locker room. Critics also accused the players of quitting on the Argentine.

While the front office started organizing a coaching search, academy director Fernando Ortiz was plugged in as interim coach. The team responded to “Tano” who is described as a player’s coach and the Aguilas flew up the table.

After a 2-1 loss to Monterrey in his debut and a scoreless draw in the Liga MX derby against Guadalajara, “Los AzulCremas” reeled off six consecutive wins to move into the upper echelons of the Liga MX standings, claiming a Top 4 seed and a first-round bye in the playoffs. Ortiz is likely to be kept on as permanent coach unless the team collapses in the Liguilla.

Chivas make move in time, León waits too long

A month later, another Liga MX giant – the Chivas – cleaned house. Coach Marcelo Michel Leaño was kicked to the curb after a Matchday 13 after a 3-1 home loss to Monterrey. Guadalajara was in 14th place and in danger of missing out on the Liga MX playoffs.

The Chivas turned to Ricardo Cadena who was coaching the franchise’s second division club, Tapatío, and the team’s fortunes turned around immediately. Guadalajara won all four games with Cadena on the sidelines and roared up the standings, finishing with the No. 6 seed.

Despite the success on the field and in the locker room (Cadena helped restore the confidence of several key players who had fallen down the depth chart), GM Ricardo Peláez is conducting a coaching search ahead of next season. If the Chivas make a deep playoff run, however, the fan base – one of the most vocal in all Liga MX – might demand that Cadena be kept on.

In mid-April, another preseason favorite experienced change at the top. León – a Liga MX finalist last season – was hanging on to one of the last wildcard spots, but underachieving badly.

Rumors of a disgruntled locker room and a series of poor results – including successive 3-0 losses in late March – had Ariel Holan on the hot seat. His lack of tactical prowess was exposed and reports of tiffs with team leaders became louder.

After a three-game losing streak, Holan submitted his resignation and ownership gladly accepted. Unfortunately, the failure to act sooner cost the Esmeraldas a chance to return to the Finals. “La Fiera” tied its last two matches and came up short of the 12th and final playoff spot, its five-season run as a Liga MX playoff participant coming to an end.

A 10th manager was added to the list after the season when legendary coach Ricardo Ferretti announced that he would not renew his contract with FC Juárez. “Tuca” suffered through the two worst seasons of his long career while with the Bravos.

Ferretti simply could not make an impact within the confines of the club’s modest payroll and Juárez finished at the bottom of the Liga MX table with just 3 wins in 17 games. The Bravos also finished last in the “Relegation Standings” and they’ll have to fork over 80 million pesos to Liga MX HQ as a result.

Also up at the northern border, Tijuana’s Sebastián Méndez claims he will remain in charge next season despite a 6-7-9 record across a season and a third. That might be a little too much to ask of Xolos fans because they are desperate for a return to the glory days of 2012-2017.

Next. Tuzos top final Liga MX Power Rankings. dark

And finally, if Querétaro changes hands, new ownership could decide to switch managers as they would likely be inclined to bring in their own front office people and start over. That would leave Hernán Cristante out of work.