If Herrera can't guide El Tri to World Cup, no one else can

Posted by Rafael Ramos Villagrana

Miguel Herrera is grabbing the controls and assuming the role of kamikaze. He's swearing that Mexico will play in the World Cup.

He's promising epic battles in Mexico and New Zealand. He's making a vow to satisfy the ruined appetite of the Mexico fans, who have had to swallow and choke on a series of sad events, again and again. El Tri have become the CONCACAF’S King of Fooldom.

The team is calling on 10 players from the Club America team, measuring logic, health, strength and promise.

The Mexican side didn't look like much of a team during 2013, but more like a gang of disorganized individuals.

But now, the underlying strength of Miguel Herrera's squad seems to be cohesion and dedication to its goal. This bond seems to be a guarantee because of so many America players on the team.

Let's make no mistake here. This means that when all the players from different sources (except Raul Jimenez) jumped into Las Aguilas' "El Nido" Stadium (otherwise known as Estadio Azteca), they assumed the most supreme professional commitment a player can take on, having to defend a team that is despised by its own fans.

Club America have overcome adversity, and at this moment in the Mexican League are galloping along spectacularly. The main reason for this is they have not been affected by the epidemic of individual crises that is eroding team cohesion throughout the league: the plague of "championitis."

Obviously, this collective passion is a very powerful force.

They are united by their responsibilities and interests, by their friendly competition and by the love devoted strictly to their team's colors.

America’s chemistry is diametrically opposite of other clubs that are floundering, such as Chivas, where nine children are fielded as starters and play as if they have a terminal illness that has no cure.

Emphasis must be put on improving morale in the locker room and maintaining team cohesiveness, since these seemed to be the main crisis of El Tri in 2013.

According to some versions, "Chepo" de la Torre had atrocious locker room sessions, and Víctor Manuel Vucetich was left with no time to mend things, since he didn't have the luxury of cohesiveness that Herrera has.

Of the 10 America players called to play for El Tri, at least six or seven could be called to start. Certainly Rafa Marquez, Oribe Peralta, Jesus Corona, Gullit Pena and either Luis Montes or Lucas Lobos will be included.

Why (Argentine-born and Mexican-naturalized) Lucas Lobos now? Looking beyond the apathy he showed in some training sessions, there was opposition from a man who was still relevant, but had lost power: national team director Hector Gonzalez Inarritu, the man who always opposed Lobos' inclusion. With Club America president Ricardo Pelaez and Herrera involved, it is clear that Inarritu's hands will now be glued to administrative paperwork.

There are a couple of notable situations in the case of Herrera. From the fact that, at the moment, he does not seek payment and does not need a contract to coach El Tri, to the guaranteed vehemence of a whipped and beaten fan base because of the team's disappointments and calamities, making it the laughing stock of the CONCACAF.

"We will all go to the World Cup," Herrera adds. But these words only serve to contradict and further ignite the issues discussed last Friday, when Mexican Football Association president Justino Compean said he could not guarantee El Tri would qualify for the World Cup. This only increases the obligation to play well in the two friendlies against Altamira and Lobos, and the game in San Diego against Finland on Oct. 30, which will be the only laboratory for any testing.

Did Herrera disappoint in his presentation?

Evidently, he was not going to confirm his place as a national hero by being a great conversationalist at tea-time, nor was he going to ingratiate himself with the fans by saying that Compean and his procedures are completely destructive to the national team. To say such a thing would only throw a couple more tons of fuel into the fire, if we take into account all the obstacles reverberating throughout Mexican soccer and the Federation.

And those playing in Europe? Carlos Vela was already told to refrain from checking his email, text messages, tweets, Facebook posts and WhatsApp texts, since the Mexico national team will not be contacting those who don't wish to represent their country.

He sent a message to the rest: Even if your play has gone down momentarily, the door is not closed for you to be called to play against New Zealand.

Mexico has chosen its general to lead the team into a battle to the death. For now, El Tri still finds itself alive, and the numbers demand respect while providing a shield and a guarantee: Miguel Herrera is the coach with the best overall results in the last three competitions.

This means that if Herrera can’t bring El Tri to the World Cup, nobody else in the world can.

This is not to unnecessarily magnify El Piojo's image, but rather to establish the only possible formula for success, which is to change practically everything on the national team, which has made a fool of itself in 2013.

Herrera is bringing players who have a winning conviction -- or at least who are willing to kill for a win -- and replacing those who were already there in 2013, the ones who were born to falter and the ones who were meant to lose.

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