Liga MX Coaching Carousel: Puebla, Necaxa go looking for new bosses

Gerardo Espinoza was all set to take the Puebla job until it was discovered that Liga MX rules prevented his hiring.(Photo by Alfredo Moya/Jam Media/Getty Images)
Gerardo Espinoza was all set to take the Puebla job until it was discovered that Liga MX rules prevented his hiring.(Photo by Alfredo Moya/Jam Media/Getty Images) /
Two more Liga MX coaches fired
Rafael Dudamel is seen here on the sidelines of Estadio Victoria before Necaxa’s game against Querétaro, his final game in charge of the Liga MX club. The Rayos lost 1-0 to fall into last place. (Photo by Cesar Gomez/Jam Media/Getty Images) /

Liga MX cellar-dwellers pull plug on managers

Before August came to a close, Eduardo Arce and Rafael Dudamel were casualties Nos. 2 and 3 in the Liga MX, booted out for poor results by Puebla and Necaxa, respectively.

Arce was let go on Aug. 24 when the Camoteros were 17th on the Liga MX table with a 0-1-4 record and a –6 goal differential (4 G, 10 GA).

During the Clausura 2023, his first season in charge, Arce guided Puebla to the Liga MX playoffs last season as the No. 10 seed (6-2-9, 20 points). He was handed the reins after Nicolás Larcamón left after the Apertura 2022 season for León. Arce had been an assistant under Larcamón at Puebla.

Necaxa sacked first-year coach Dudamel, a Venezuelan, on Aug. 29 after just six games in charge of the Rayos. “Los electricistas” are a pitiful 0-2-4 and in last place. Making matters worse, their front office is a shambles.

Puebla’s hiring process proves a calamity

While interim manager Ricardo Carbajal led the Camoteros to a 1-0 win over FC Juárez on Matchday 6, ownership appeared to have carried out a nice little coup.

Mexico’s U-23 coach Gerardo Espinoza was Puebla preparing to sign a contract. Unfortunately, nobody appeared to have read the Liga MX regulations.

Liga MX rules stipulate clubs are prohibited from signing any coach that has managed a national team – at any age level – during the season in progress. The rules is in place to prevent teams from poaching coaches from Team Mexico.

As Espinoza was still under contract with the U-23 side when Puebla sought to hire him, he is ineligible and the negotiations – which were nearly complete – were scuttled.

To make matters worse for Espinoza (who led El Mini Tri to gold this summer in the Central America & Caribbean Games), the FMF refused to allow him to return to the U-23 job. Just yesterday, Ricardo Cadena was announced as the new coach of Mexico’s Under-23 team.

Meanwhile, Carbajal will remain in charge of the Camoteros and club management has suggested he could be kept on through the remainder of the Liga MX season if Puebla wins Friday night at home against 15th-place Tijuana.

Puebla currently sits 17th on the Liga MX table, only 2 points clear of Necaxa.

Speaking of the last-place Rayos …

Just six weeks into the 2023-2024 cycle, Necaxa seems headed toward a bottom three finish and the big fine that goes with it.

The Rayos have the least-productive offense in Liga MX and one of the worst defenses … not a good combination. Management decided to scapegoat Dudamel and sent him packing.

In all honesty, controversial general manager José Hanan has done a terrible job filling out its roster and the front office has been ill-managed, to say the least. Necaxa finished 17th last season then Hanan embarrassed the club by starting a brawl with Atlético de San Luis officials on the sidelines of a summer friendly.

The last straw might have been how the team managed an offer from Barcelona for teen sensation Heriberto Jurado as August wound down. Necaxa refused to lower its excessive price tag – $10 million dollars – and the Spanish giants backed away from the deal. For some context, Cruz Azul last year sold Santiago Giménez – a regular starter for the Cementeros – to Feyenoord for $8 million dollars.

So after Dudamel was pink-slipped, ownership stepped in and conducted the coaching search on its own. Santiago Tinajero – son of the majority owner – convinced former Santos Laguna manager Eduardo Fentanes to take the reins in Aguascalientes. (Fentanes had turned down an offer from Puebla before the Camoteros started wooing Espinoza.)

Fentanes, 46, has had four previous Liga MX jobs: Puebla (2010), Estudiantes Tecos (2011), San Luis (2013) and Santos Laguna (2022-2023). He guided the Guerreros to a No. 3 seed in the Apertura 2022 season but “Los Verdiblancos” were knocked out of the playoffs in the quarterfinals by sixth-seeded Toluca.

Next. Internal transfer deadline prompts flurry of moves. dark

The Veracruz native is expected to be on the sidelines when Necaxa visits León on Saturday.