FIFA World Cup’s newest darling is Miguel Herrera, head coach for Mexico’s national team. The unabashed, unfiltered head strategist has become a favorite among fans, players and the media.
Herrera, a 46 year-old former player has skillfully rallied his team to one of the best starts in Mexico’s World Cup history. Currently, Mexico is on top of its group, Group A, which also includes Brazil, Croatia and Cameroon. This is quite an accomplishment considering Mexico was close to being eliminated from the World Cup qualifying matches just a few months back. In fact, according to Mexico City-based Reuter’s reporter, Carlos Calvo, in addition to his team, head coach Herrera almost missed the bus to Brazil as well. Calvo explained that after Mexico fired three separate coaches in succession, the job of leading Mexico to the World Cup Finals was handed to Herrera. “He kind of fell into the job of taking Mexico to the World Cup” said Calvo.
In fact, coaching Mexico in the 2014 World Cup was the last thing from Herrera’s mind just two years ago. Herrera was coaching Mexico City’s America club. for several years, However, after several years at the helm, Herrera failed to bring the club a league title. As a result his reputation as an effective and successful head coach was being burned in effigy by angry fans. Simultaneous to Herrera’s problems, the Mexico National Soccer Team was having problems of their own. According to Calvo, Mexico was threatened with elimination from World Cup qualifying. “Jose Manuel de la Torre, Mexico’s head coach and his assistants were fired,” said Calvo.
Answering a national emergency, Herrera stepped up and accepted the near impossible assignment of guiding Mexico’s national team into FIFA’s 2014 World Cup. To qualify for Brazil, however, Mexico had to win a do-or-die match in an intercontinental playoff with New Zealand. If Mexico won, they would advance to the World Cup, but if they lost, they would return to Mexico and wait another four years. Stout, smiling and squat, Herrera is half as tall as most of his players but twice their girth, and completes the image with his nickname is El Piojo (The Louse). Herrera successfully guided the Mexical national team into victory against New Zealand, squeezing into the last available spot on the World Cup roster. He has never looked back, making the Mexico coach the newest darling in this year’s FIFA’s World Cup. “We have to leave behind the past and look toward the opportunity we have,” Herrera said.
Since taking over Mexico’s national team, Herrera has infused a calm and looseness in his team. This quiet calm is part of Herrera’s strategy to build a team with swagger and confidence. Herrera has also pumped up the Mexico National Team’s attack. According to FIFA, Herrera primarily employing a 5-3-2 formation. This combination of digits describes the number of players in a line from the defending goal moving forward. Therefore, the Mexico back line consists of five-players who can overlap with the middle to create a dynamic and versatile jab and cover game plan. The strategy appears to be paying for as Mexico continued its winning streak with a 3-1 win against Croatia. Many experts are crediting the Louse as the reason behind Mexico’s winning streak. “We’re entitled to become world champions. We’ve got good players and infrastructure so why shouldn’t we think that way?” said Herrera.
After being nearly eliminated from this year’s tournament, Mexico’s head coach has become the newest darling of FIFA’s World Cup. With a reputation for being candid and not afraid to wear his heart where it shows, Herrera could be the missing link to a Mexico victory.
By Vincent Aviani