Miguel Herrera is no longer the Mexico national team manager, having been fired in the wake of attacking a TV Azteca reporter after the Gold Cup final. Whether it was simply because of that incident or just an excuse to fire someone they just wanted to get rid of, the Mexican Football Federation now has to find someone else to lead their national team. The task is all the more important because of Mexico's upcoming Confederations Cup qualifying playoff in October against the United States.
That means Mexico needs a manager with the experience and know-how to whip the team into shape quickly. With the new manager bringing in a new set of tactics and methods before that vital match, he'll also need the ability to demand the respect needed to get the work done in a limited timeframe, with just two matches between now and then. The question, then, is this: who can do the job?
The first and most obvious place to look is right at home in Liga MX, Mexico's top division in the sport. That's been their normal job pool, so to speak, with a strong preference for domestically-based coaches. Sven-Göran Eriksson was the last foreign coach to manage Mexico way back in 2009, with only a smattering of other coaches from outside the country in the decades prior. Most of the foreign coaches have been Argentine, with only Bora Milutinovic joining Eriksson as a European coach of the Mexico national team in the last two decades -- and Milutinovic's reign ended in 1997.
Turning to Liga MX already eliminates a couple potentially promising candidates, however. Chepo de la Torre is a solid manager who might normally be glad to get away from the odd mess that C.D. Guadalajara has become, but his previous time with Mexico and the contentious way it ended probably removes any chance of that. Ditto Luis Tena, who led Mexico's U-23's to Olympic gold in 2012 while serving as Chepo's assistant with the senior squad. He served as the interim for one match after Chepo was fired, then was unceremoniously dumped himself.
As for Victor Manuel Vucetich, the once-presumptive future of the national team, he was only given two matches in charge, winning one and losing one before getting fired as well. It's unlikely that he gives FMF a chance to treat him the same way again, unless he gets assurances that he'll be given a serious, long-term chance at proving what he can do with the national team.
If Mexico want to bring in a new and native face to the national team, the best clear choice would be Guillermo Vazquez, the current boss of UNAM Pumas, a former Best Coach award winner for the 2011 Clausura, and winner of two Clausuras and a Liguilla over the last five years. His sides are always competitive and easy to watch, and it'd be easy to see his style translating well to the international game. Whether or not he'd be willing to leave Pumas right now is a matter of some debate -- after a rough Clausura earlier this year, he has his side primed for a much stronger Apertura season, and might not want to abandon his project just yet.
Outside of Vazquez, though, there's really no clear-cut option for Mexico if they want a Mexican manager, at least not one with whom they haven't already burned bridges. They do, however, have a Brazilian manager in the league who spent the vast majority of his playing days and, so far, all of his coaching career in Mexico -- UANL Tigres boss Ricardo Ferretti. He has a long history of managerial success, and has Tigres in the Copa Libertadores final -- only the third Mexican team in the history of that tournament to reach the final. If they can talk Ferretti into leaving Tigres after the second leg of that final -- which is on Aug. 5 against Argentine giants River Plate -- he could prove to be an excellent option for Mexico to turn to.
There's one other foreign coach worth considering, though, and he's even been linked to the job this week -- Chile boss Jorge Sampaoli. The Argentine manager has become a minor legend since taking over Chile in 2012, making a surprisingly deep World Cup run last summer with a hilariously bizarre and incredibly entertaining set of tactics that involved using defensive midfielders and fullbacks in place of traditional central defenders. Those same tactics saw Sampaoli lead Chile to a Copa America triumph on home soil in 2015, winning the final for the first time in Chile's history when they beat Argentina on penalties.
It seems like an incredible long shot that Sampaoli would leave Chile after such success to join a shakier side in Mexico, but there's a sense that he has, perhaps, achieved all he's going to with La Roja, and that El Tri might be able to give him a project worth his interest. If he really does show a legitimate interest in the job, it would be nearly impossible to see the FMF rejecting him as a candidate simply because he's not Mexican -- if you need a new manager, and someone of Sampaoli's success and history is available, you snap them up no matter what.
There are a lot of questions surrounding Mexico's future right now, but there is promise and potential for good things to happen if they hire the right manager. It's not quite Sampaoli-or-bust in terms of the available candidates, but they need to be careful to pick the right man for the job. Now it's up to them to get the hiring process moving -- they need to get someone in quickly to start preparing for the Confederations Cup playoff, and El Tri don't have any time to waste at this crucial stage.