LOS ANGELES – Still playing as locals, because the United States is the backyard of their soccer adventures, Gerardo Martino and the Mexican National Team did not survive the June zacapelas. Two draws (Costa Rica and Honduras), and one defeat (USA).
“We were better,” say the indulgent coripheans. “We play like never before in the Martino era”, the pimps envoy to chase away the fog of uncertainties. To explain with excuses is to imply guilt. It’s like going to the flood with a broken umbrella.
Not everything is Gerardo Martino’s fault, but some of his decisions shake the always murky waters of skepticism. Perhaps today you will regret the sabbatical year you took during the pandemic. Technically, it was unproductive for nine months.
The best of the Conkakafkian ambush still awaits Mexico and Martino (a term coined by Guillermo Chao in the eighties, and that today many are awarded). The Gold Cup is coming and then the World Cup tie.
Saturday’s sad display (no shot on goal) against a decimated Honduras is not a key point of reference, but it confirms that Mexico aspires more for individual feats than for collective confirmations.
But, it is also true, it is necessary to emphasize it again, that ‘Tata’ Martino has more than enough shirts and he lacks candidates. He has not inherited, facing Qatar 2022, one of the best soccer generations in Mexico.
So, the ‘Tata’ Martino, guilty or innocent? Or, perhaps, not so guilty, not so innocent.
1.- THE WOLF BECAME A MAN …
In the Tri environment they have dedicated more time to regret the painful injury of Raúl Jiménez, before looking for solutions. The human being is recovering pleasantly, but the ‘Big Wolf’ of Wolverhampton, is still in the hospital of uncertainty.
Meanwhile, Gerardo Martino, has discovered, belatedly, that Mexican football has blunt, flattened bayonets, and that neither Alan Pulido nor Henry Martín command respect in the opposite area. The first thing is the MLS kindergarteners; the second, Coapa’s testosterone.
The ‘Tata’ is guilty of none of this. But yes to ignore Javier Hernández and Santiago Ormeño. The first, ‘Chicharito’, it is true, has sins to purge. The second did not even deserve the privilege of doubt.
Both were denied the right to be observed. To know if Hernández is genuinely sorry, and if the second has as much as he promised with Puebla to be transferred to León.
Instead, in a malicious, almost perverse act, Martino decides to take Pulido and Martín against Wales and Costa Rica on a European tour, knowing that neither could play because they were injured. So why carry them around? Are the tours of Europe now, mobile hospitals?
2.- CAPRICHO FUNES-TO AND MORI-BUNDO
Instead he becomes obsessed with his countryman, Rogelio Funes Mori, who in Monterrey’s last 11 games was unable to score, and sometimes not even start. If the Twin is terrified, paralyzed, because he cannot break Humberto Suazo’s record, will he be up to the fierce demands of the Conkakafkian brawls?
Let’s remember: with Rayados, a misplaced caress on the ankle or shin, and Funes Mori has left the game. And in the Gold Cup and qualifying rounds, the attacker from Rayados will end up grated.
As can be seen, Martino is innocent of Jiménez’s injury and of the poverty of attackers in Mexican soccer, but he is totally responsible for being infatuated with Funes Mori, and for behaving submissive before the FMF veto against ‘Chicharito’, and to none Ormeño, today registered by Peru in the Copa América.
In addition, until now, Tata has not been able to explain what Funes Mori offers him, that they cannot offer him ‘Chicharito’ and Ormeño. Does he have a secret weapon that until now he has not shown in Mexican soccer?
He has used Hirving Lozano as the axis of attack, which has meant covering one hole by uncovering another. In addition, choosing ‘Chucky’ as his ‘9’ is an obvious act of humiliation towards Martín and Pulido. It is a public proclamation of your unfitness for the job. Send the message that you prefer a relatively improvised rather than a supposed specialist.
3.- THE DOG WITH THE TWO CAKES …
A football that borders and borders with disaster, as with the Mexican, the pandemic scarred it with its ravages. Martino worked little, but, in addition, although he was supposedly offered a private flight to be located in Mexico, his place of work, he decided to cloister himself in Argentina, practically from December 2019 to September 2020.
The pandemic disrupted dates and plans. Martino should also take charge of the Olympic Games, but now he must focus on the Gold Cup, and share chips from a rather anemic board, with Jaime Lozano for the contest in Tokyo.
The requirement, however, remains there for both tournaments. Yon de Luisa, speaking to Héctor Huerta, for ESPN, said that it is essential to win the Gold Cup and win an Olympic medal. And of course, in that exciting world between desires, demands, predictions, and optimism, there is always the alley of failure. And the risk of being like the dog of the two cakes. He who plays out of necessity loses out of obligation.
4.- WELDING MACHINE WITHOUT SOLDIERS …
While Diego Lainez confirms that the internship at Betis has embittered him, in every way, other key pieces in Martino’s chess have been degraded: the disappearance of Uriel Antuna, the inconsistency of Héctor Herrera, the osteoarthritis of Andrés Guardado, and in overall an absolute drama in the defensive zone.
Gone and Rafa Márquez, it is clear that a Hector Moreno, slow, with a couple of extra pounds, for the demands that come to him, deep down, Mexico is vulnerable, it is exposed. Néstor Araujo looks confused, while Carlos Salcedo goes through that stage of instinctively playing rugby rather than soccer.
The terror of set pieces is insisted upon. The versions of those close to Tri are very accurate. They are scenarios that are always worked on, but that in games, already under pressure from the adversary, more powerful and more determined, the defenders are distracted or paralyzed. And Araujo and Salcedo together, they are such a bearable and intelligent marriage, like Godzilla and King Kong.
That defensive fragility explains why Tata rehearses with a line of five. The problem is that their lanes attack badly, and sometimes they defend worse. Their best alternative, as centrals, are two players tested and approved in that area: Luis Romo and Edson Álvarez. Your best lane option? The ‘Tecatito’ Corona, at his best with Porto.
At least, Gerardo Martino plays three chips for his salvation in this summer of terror that is coming. He gives in to his best goalkeeper: Guillermo Ochoa. Also the best footballer of Guard1anes 2021, and the most versatile, Luis Romo. And he adds Henry Martín, with the hope that before minors in age and experience that he will shine.
How guilty and how innocent is Martino about this latest scenario? It has needed to fall into the urgency to the Brazilian: “he who does not have dogs, hunts with cats.”
5.- AND THE SCREAM …
He has two friendlies ahead: Panama and Nigeria, to find his best eleven, and find out if there is a ‘9’ available, before he is disappointed with Funes Mori, or even try to play without a defined ‘9’, although to That requires deep, forceful and implacable midfielders, and of those, they are not harvested in bunches in Mexico.
However, there is one more threat to Martino: the shout from the rostrum. Yes, the one that FIFA declared as homophobic, and that the Mexican fan defends as a genuine offshoot of their folklore.
Concacaf and FMF have already warned that the appearance of this scream in the Gold Cup will cost Mexico points and perhaps even expulsion from the tournament itself, which seems unlikely, because El Tri is the goose that lays the golden eggs. And in Concacaf and the FMF they feed their excessive greed, every day, with Mexican omelettes, but …
As can be seen, there are numerous court decisions, which are strictly up to Gerardo Martino, but there are others, such as the slow and stumbling generational transition, and the lack of alertness of some players, who demand more work from him, but ends with the same regret of the carpenter: “there are little pieces of wood that never catch the varnish”.