Jose Manuel ‘Chepo’ De La Torre is a man who is stubborn, defiant and often times unable to admit his errors and mistakes. After having coached Mexico to a 2-1 home loss to Honduras for the second-ever defeat in the Estadio Azteca during a World Cup Qualifier, Mexico found itself in fourth place and having to need to win six of the final nine points up for grabs in order to potentially qualify either directly or through a playoff against New Zealand to next summer’s World Cup.
In his post-game press conference, one would assume to have heard that “Chepo” would have been contrite, honest and recognizing that things are not going well. Instead, he continued to be the same stubborn, defiant individual he has been as he neither admitted fault or failed to recognize that things were bad for Mexico here in the final round of World Cup Qualifying. In the early hours of Saturday morning, his bosses within the Mexican Federation finally made the decision which should have been made right after a disastrous display in the Gold Cup, and that was firing Chepo De La Torre.
After having started his tenure riding high, it appeared that Mexico under Chepo would have very little trouble qualifying for the World Cup. Yet as the calender turned January 1, 2013, things began to change for the worst. It began with a 1-1 draw against a Denmark team who mainly played a U-21 side in a friendly. A week later, in the first game of the final round of qualifying, Mexico drew Jamaica 0-0 in at home in a game they should have probably loss. Then the same story repeated itself, Mexico drew in a game where they were unable to generate any sustained attacking form and lack any ideas as to how to generate more attacking presence.
Fast forward to after the Gold Cup when the first division owners held a meeting and it looked certain that Chepo was going to be relieved of his job as national team coach. Yet after a vote and some scolding, he was given the vote of confidence and remained in charge. And after a convincing win over Ivory Coast in an August friendly, things appeared to have changed, yet the performance Friday night showed that nothing had changed at all and in order to salvage any chance of qualifying, a change in coach was needed.
Now Luis Fernando Tena will lead a team lacking much confidence into a crucial game against the United States Tuesday looking to give Mexico a chance at somehow rising and qualifying to the World Cup still in some shape or form. But the firing of De La Torre had to be done, even if it was better late than never. As his work during 2013 has shown, he was a coach whose stubbornness and defiance, while at times having served him well, clearly was failing and clouding his judgement over the situation and leading to a downfall of the Mexican national team.
The lesson in the end for Chepo and anybody else in life is that you can only deny the obvious for so long and that doing so will in the end prove costly to you. Mexico played like a team that was scared, that was afraid, that was uptight and all this was due to the fact that Chepo himself exhibited all these attributes himself. It was clear that the team reflected the coach and in the end, that reflection was not a good one.