One would expect Mexico’s most historic and biggest team would be preparing and aiming towards lifting the title in the upcoming season. However, that is not the case with Chivas. A recent series of mediocre seasons and a continuous non-stop manager changes, one after another, have placed the legendary Guadalajara club in an unfamiliar and dangerous position as they set face the the task of avoiding relegation for a second consecutive year.
Full Name: Club Deportivo Guadalajara
Nicknames: Las Chivas del Guadalajara, El Rebaño Sagrado, Los Rojiblancos
Stadium: Estadio Omnilife (49,850 capacity)
Owner: Jorge Vergara
Manager: Carlos Bustos
Liga MX Champions: 11 ( 1956–57, 1958–59, 1959–60, 1960–61, 1961–62, 1963–64, 1964–65, 1969–70, 1986–87, 1997, and 2006)
Copa MX Champions: 3 (1963 & 1970)
Continental Champions: 1 (1962)
Apertura 2013: 16th
Clausura 2014: 15th
Apertura Copa MX: Group Stage Elimination
Clausura Copa MX: Group Stage Elimination
Having ended the Apertura 2013 season in an embarrassing way, one would have expected highly criticized owner Jorge Vergara to plan the following season properly and adequately. However, the former Chivas USA proprietor instead handed a returning former-manager Jose Luis "Güero" Real the task of planning the season in short-notice; as the preseason had already gotten underway.
Chivas had a surprisingly good start to the season. With a great-performance that should have merited a win, the Guadalajara club managed to earn a draw against Santos before managing a convincing win against Chiapas the following week.
Having shown promising glimpses of what many was expected to come, the team ultimately proved that this season would be a series of inconsistent performances as Chivas would go on to draw in what many considered winnable matches against Veracruz and Atlante, before losing to Cruz Azul in Week 5.
The story dragged on as Chivas' roller coaster season continued: picking up two consecutive wins before being unable to pick up a win in thee consecutive matches, winning against the reigning Liga MX Champion Leon only to then draw against city rivals Atlas in the Tapatio Derby.
However, Vergara's famously short-patience was ran out after the club's embarrassing loss against Club America in Mexico's most historic and heated rivalry; falling 4-0 loss at the Estadio Azteca.
Things seemed to be heading in the right direction as Argentine Ricardo La Volpe was named in charge of the squad for the remaining four games of the tournament: winning his first match, drawing his second and losing the remaining pair, and with it a chance to access the Liguilla in the final second.
But despite missing out of the playoffs, a rather limited squad had showed glimpses of potential for the next tournament. Chivas was expected to flourish under the former Mexico manager’s tactical genius and capitalize on his eye for talent during the transfer window. But a shameful and public controversy with a female staff member forced Vergara to yet again empty the manager seat, leaving Chivas to start back at square one with percentage troubles meaning they would have to deal with the threat of relegation.
The decision to bring in the former Morelia manager, instead of a free-agent and highly praised Victor Manuel Vucetich was a gamble by the Chivas hierarchy that could, however, be worth the risk.
The Argentine has had a short career in Mexico, having last sat on the Monarcas bench, where he managed to take the team to two consecutive Quarter-final appearances in Liguilla, while winning the Copa MX title. Bustos was scheduled to lead the team after winning a berth-place in the Copa Libertadores but was sacked at the beginning of the Clausura 2014 tournament; a move that was deemed both unfair and shocking.
Bustos' playing system employs a fast-pace while attempting to move the ball around the rival's side of the field, ultimately generating frequent danger and chances on goal; specifically from the wings coming from either the outside midfielders or the fullbacks.
MAJOR TRANSFERS IN
Angel Reyna (CAM, Veracruz, 29)
Fernando Arce (CM, Xolos, 34)
Carlos Salcido (CDM/CB/LB, Tigres, 34)
Luis Michel (GK, Saprissa [Return from loan], 34)
David Toledo (CM, Chiapas, 32)
Sergio Napoles (RB, Cruz Azul, 24)
Alberto Garcia (RB, Atlante, 20)
Vergara appears to have finally realized the gravity of the situation as he has decided, for once, to open his checkbook to bring in some much needed reinforcements. Albeit the fact that they aren’t the most flamboyant signings, Chivas have elected to bring experienced players to lead them in these times of trouble.
The midfield trio of Toledo, Arce, and a returning Carlos Salcido, give the team a well-balanced and solid approach to a midfield that will receive a defensive boost and vision to open up the plays down field.
The return of keeper Luis Michel, as either a starter or backup, will mean the Chivas goal will be well defended as a strong competition is expected from the experienced Michel and Antonio Rodriguez, the revelation for the team last season.
Garcia is still a work in process as the youngster's potential has a high-ceiling that the team will hope they can start to develop. Meanwhile, despite not being a high-profile signing, Naploes will add depth and solitude to the defense.
Finally, the star signing for the club is bad boy Angel Reyna. No one has ever questioned Reyna's immense talents, which had him called-up on a regular basis to the Mexican national team. It's his attitude issues outside the pitch that make this a risky move for a club in need of a playmaker of his high-standards.
MAJOR TRANSFERS OUT
Victor Hugo Hernandez (to Queretaro)
Victor Perales (to Veracruz)
The loss of backup keeper Hugo Hernandez would have been troublesome had something happened to Rodriguez. However, the return of Michel means Chivas have nothing to worry about as the goal is well defended. Meanwhile, despite showing potential of becoming a regular in Chivas defensive line, Perales was used as bait to close out a deal with Veracruz for Angel Reyna.
There is urgency from the board members, the players, and the fans to see the club once again return to their place at the top of Mexican football after slowly been fading from the spotlight due to season after season of failures. Chivas have hit-rock bottom, putting at risk their prestigious history on the line as they risk the possibility of being relegated if they are to continue with their mistakes, both at pitch-level and office.
Despite having a team that can fight for spot at midtable, and perhaps even a place in the playoffs, the club's main objective will be to improve their numbers in the percentage table. Fail to do so, and Vergara's reign as owner could go down as the most infamous one in the club's 108-years of existence.
OPENING SIX FIXTURES
19th July – vs Atlas (a)
26th July – vs Leon (h)
1st Aug – vs Tijuana (a)
9th Aug – vs America (h)
16th Aug – vs Puebla (a)
22nd Aug – vs Morelia (a)