Rudderless Cementeros coming apart at the seams

Cruz Azul players trudge off the field after their Matchday 5 contest at Estadio Azteca. The Cementeros lost to Tigres 1-0 to sink to 0-1-3 on the season. (Photo by Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images)
Cruz Azul players trudge off the field after their Matchday 5 contest at Estadio Azteca. The Cementeros lost to Tigres 1-0 to sink to 0-1-3 on the season. (Photo by Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images) /
Cementeros disaster
Cruz Azul fans turn their backs on the team during an Aug. 27, 2021, game at Estadio Azteca to protest the club’s poor results. Cementeros fans might stage a similar demonstration during the team’s next home game. (Photo by Agustin Cuevas/Getty Images) /

Cruz Azul’s Clausura 2023 season could not have gotten off to a worse start but managerial incompetence only threatens to make things worse.

As we detailed in a December special report, the Cementeros approached the new season on tenuous ground primarily because of its bumbling front office.

So of course, head coach Raúl Gutiérrez has been made the scapegoat.

The proud Liga MX franchise finds itself near the bottom of the table yet again (they sank to 17th in the Liga MX standings last season before Gutiérrez came to the rescue, guiding the Cementeros to a 5-1-1 finish and the No. 7 playoff seed).

Tearing down an institution from the inside

The Cementeros “brain trust“ (nominally headed by Víctor Velázquez) continue to demonstrate their ineptitude in the wake of this 0-1-3 start.

The front office failed to adequately address the roster needs identified by Gutiérrez who nonetheless led the Cementeros to victory in the preseason Copa por México tournament.

The roster shortcomings were quite apparent (an ongoing issue since Velázquez shook up the front office a year ago) such that the Cementeros are not considered a contender this season.

Still, two of Cruz Azul’s three setbacks were one-goal losses to genuine contenders (Monterrey and Tigres), but Velázquez & Co. have decided that panic is the best option.

But avoiding accountability is evidently first on the list so Gutiérrez is getting the blame. Yet that wasn’t enough. They also hung the embattled coach out to dry.

The front office made it known that they were in touch with former Cementeros legend Francisco Palencia who is in Spain managing the Tec Academy Barcelona. At the same time, Gutiérrez was given an ultimatum – beat Toluca on Sunday or you’re gone.

However, mixed reports emanated from La Noria overnight and it is not clear if Gutiérrez will be on the sideline this weekend. There is now talk of an interim coach to lead the Cementeros against the Diablos Rojos while the Palencia negotiations are yet to get under way.

What a mess!

Too many generals in Cementeros front office

Liga MX pundits have argued for some time that the current Cruz Azul management team is out of its league (while lamenting that the last Cementeros general manager is now in charge of Mexico’s national team).

There appears to be no doubt that the situation at Cruz Azul will not be rectified until the front office is put in order, a problem that dates back to the scandalous departure of former boss Guillermo Álvarez.

Record sports daily columnist “El Francotirador” points out in his Tuesday column that the inner circle is more like a circular firing squad.

While Velázquez is indeed top man, he has too many advisors without football experience as well as two men (Oscar Pérez and Carlos López) acting as general manager but without real authority.

In the meantime, Cruz Azul fans hunker down for a long, disappointing season, fully cognizant that this will not be cleaned up soon.

After the Cementeros ended their 24-year title drought with a young, dynamic roster just four seasons ago, many thought it was the start of a new and promising era.

Next. Monterrey holds off feisty Toluca; Chivas avoid shame. dark

Instead this once great franchise is in a shambles and its glory days are obscured by ramshackle scaffolding that is barely keeping the edifice upright.