Chivas quickly complete management overhaul

Fernando Hierro didn't waste any time upon being named general manager by the Chivas. He is set to announce the club's new coach this week. (Photo by Etsuo Hara/Getty Images)
Fernando Hierro didn't waste any time upon being named general manager by the Chivas. He is set to announce the club's new coach this week. (Photo by Etsuo Hara/Getty Images) /
Chivas front office
Fernando Beltrán (left) and Alexis Vega react glumly after the Chivas were eliminated from the Liga MX playoffs in a wildcard shootout. (Photo by Jam Media/Getty Images) /

The Liga MX coaching carousel was at a virtual standstill during the Apertura 2022, Cruz Azul’s Diego Aguirre being the lone casualty.

Four managers have departed since the regular season came to an end, however, including two that led their teams to the Liga MX playoffs – Necaxa’s Jaime Lozano and Guadalajara’s Ricardo Cadena.

The other two teams looking for new leadership are UNAM (Andrés Lillini dismissed after five seasons) and Atlas (Diego Cocca declined to sign a new contract).

In addition to the coaching searches, four teams are replacing their general managers – Chivas (making a clean slate of it), Tijuana, Cruz Azul and Monterrey – and since Querétaro is up for sale the Gallos Blancos are likely to clean house too.

Chivas looking for a fresh start

It has been five years since Guadalajara’s last Liga MX title and that Clausura 2017 Finals appearance came 11 years after their previous championship.

When Ricardo Peláez took over as general manager in December 2019, he promised Chivas Nation trophies and lengthy playoff runs. Peláez splashed the cash around that first season, the pandemic shortened Clausura 2020.

Not only did the new acquisitions fail to boost the Chivas into the top of the table, but the excessive spending along with the financial burden of playing in empty stadiums due to Covid effectively limited Guadalajara’s roster flexibility ever since.

The Chivas did advance to the Liga MX semifinals in the Apertura 2020 – stunning América along the way – but came up short against eventual champions León. And that was the high-water mark of the Peláez regime.

Guadalajara could do no better than qualify as a wildcard in the four seasons since, only once advancing to the quarterfinals where they were eliminated by crosstown rivals.

This season, “El Rebaño Sagrado” lost three straight down the stretch and lost out on hosting its wildcard game. When the ninth-seeded Chivas lost to No. 8 Puebla in a penalty shoot-out, the writing was on the wall.

Chivas owner Amaury Vergara parted ways with Peláez a few days later while indicating that coach Ricardo Cadena would remain with the team. In the three years in charge, Peláez had gone through four coaches – Luis Fernando Tena, Víctor Manuel Vucetich, Marcelo Michel Leaño and Cadena.

Real Madrid legend to the rescue?

Less than a week after kicking Peláez out of office, the Chivas had a new general manager. Taking charge of the Sacred Flock was Fernando Hierro, the legendary Real Madrid defender who had gone on to great success as a football executive.

Hierro was sporting director of the Spanish national team when “La Furia Roja” won the 2008 Euros and the 2010 World Cup. “El Mariscal” then returned to “Los Merengues” as assistant coach in 2014, served as top manager at Real Oviedo for a season (2016-2017) then took the reins for Spain at the 2018 World Cup.

The arrival of the Spanish legend was not good news for Cadena and he was pink-slipped shortly thereafter with Hierro announcing that the next Chivas coach had to meet certain prerequisites: he must have a connection to Liga MX; he must have experience in a big European league; and, he must have the capacity to work with Guadalajara’s academy kids.

The names of potential managers who met the criteria immediately started circulating, among them Hugo Sánchez, a teammate of Hierro at Real Madrid for three seasons. “Hugol” led UNAM to back-to-back Liga MX titles in 2004 and has experience in LaLiga (Almería), but it’s not clear that Chivas fans would take to the former star as he played for bitter rivals América in the 1990s.

Also mentioned were Paco Jémez (the Spaniard has managed several LaLiga clubs and spent a year in charge at Cruz Azul), Francisco Ayestarán (the Spaniard coached Tecos, Santos and Pachuca in Liga MX and Valencia and Las Palmas in LaLiga), John van’t Schip (the Dutchman actually managed the Chivas in 2012 and served as coach at FC Twente in the Eredivisie) and Juan Manuel Lillo (the Spaniard coached Dorados de Sinaloa in Mexico’s second division, managed Real Sociedad in LaLiga and served as Pep Guardiola’s top assistant at Manchester City).

While reporters scrambled to get comments from these candidates, the name of Alberto Celades emerged as the front-runner. Celades – a product of Barcelona’s famed La Masía academy – left the Catalan side for Real Madrid in 2000 and played alongside Hierro for three seasons.

Celades managed Spain’s Under-17 and U-21 teams, was an assistant coach with Real Madrid (2018) coach and was head man at Valencia (2019-20). However, the Barcelona native has no experience with Liga MX.

Next. Underdog Toluca takes on top-seeded América. dark

On Wednesday morning, the new Chivas boss announced that managerial interviews were completed and a new head coach would be announced soon, and Celades was expected to be named the next Guadalajara head coach.