Pumas UNAM: A Liga MX “Giant” Dealing With A Sporting Crisis
After their 2-0 home loss on Sunday afternoon to Toluca in Liga MX Clausura 2014 Week 3 play, Pumas UNAM find themselves with one point through the first three games. Aside from having been booed off the field of play by their home crowd, the team heads into a midweek Copa MX match with the prospects that another loss would likely see coach Jose Luis Trejo fired with sporting director Mario Trejo, no relation to the coach, stepping down per his promise.
Now Pumas are not at the moment in any immediate threat of being drawn into a relegation battle seeing as they sit 13th in the Liga MX Tabla de Descenso (Relegation Table), but any continued struggles like those so far in the Clausura 2014 season will make their Apertura 2014 and Clausura 2015 seasons ones where they are facing a relegation battle. Now how is it that a proud team, a team considered of the the giants of Mexican soccer, is in such bad shape both on and off the field? The answer to this question is simple; there has been bad management of the club on and off the field of play the last two years.
The first problem is the on field issues which are numerous. Aside from the fact that the team has not and is not playing well, at the moment the players who were signed to help the team escape a delicate situation are not up to the task. The signings made by the team were of veteran players like Daniel Ludeña, Leandro Augusto and Dante Lopez who with all due respect offer nothing of much substance to a team who needs players to be able to come in and produce. Yet players like Jehu Chiapas and Emilio Orrantia who have been sold or loaned out are currently doing well with other clubs.
Another explanation to the current struggles being experienced by Pumas is that their youth system is currently not producing players like it once has. For those who don’t know, Pumas has been famous for developing great young Mexican players like Hugo Sanchez, Enrique Borja, Jorge Campos, Claudio Suarez and most recently Hector Moreno. While there may not be a youth player of that caliber on the squad at this moment, I am of the opinion that the youth team players who have been promoted to the first team squad are better than given credit for. Unfortunately, they are being asked to take on a responsibility that they should not be burdened with.
Play on the field, record, player signings and youth player development have not been up to par or to the standards expected of a club like Pumas. The responsibility of this falls not only on the coaches who have come through but on the sporting director. Whether it be Mario Trejo now or Alberto Garcia Aspe before him, the sporting directors Pumas have had as of late have not done a good job of following and executing the Pumas blueprint.
The failures of the the sporting director in turn fall on the desk of the UNAM rector and UNAM patronage president who have not done a good job of hiring a sporting director. It is clear that the issues with Pumas are much deeper than just a coach who is not getting results on the field with a team that has not been well put together by the sporting director. While many Pumas fans might want Hugo Sanchez back in charge — which is far from being a viable answer or solution — the fact of the matter is that Pumas will have to do a thorough restructuring in order to be able to leave this delicate situation behind.