Another round of World Cup Qualifiers passed, and another disappointing round of disappointing performances for Tata Martino’s men. The difference between this round of qualifiers and previous ones is that the Mexican national team got 0 out of a possible 6 points. Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino has been in the hot seat ever since ‘el tri’ lost two finals to the USMNT this summer. That seat is now red-hot after losing to the U.S. and Canada 2-0 and 2-1 respectively.
Mexico started this international break on top of the CONCACAF qualifying table on 14 points, with the USMNT and Canada behind them on 11 points and 10 respectively. After those two loses, both Canada and USA have overtaken Mexico with 16 and 15 points respectively, while ‘el tri’ remains on 14 points. This has everyone in Mexico asking for Tata’s head.
Here are some of the reasons for a possible sacking of the Argentinian coach.
Bad Player Selection
One of the biggest criticisms that Martino has received throughout his tenure so far has been his player selection. The Mexican media has constantly pointed out how Gerardo Martino tends to call up the same players. When it comes to World Cup Qualifiers, every nation would want to bring their best players to ultimately qualify to the World Cup. But in Mexico’s case, the best players aren’t getting called up.
It seems clear that Martino has some favorites in the Mexican squad. Instead of calling up the best Mexican players in their respective position, Tata has continues to call up the same players. Players like Jesus Gallardo and ‘Chaka’ Rodriguez, who’s best form was last seen in 2019. Mexican Players like ‘Tecatito’ Corona and Hector Herrera, who aren’t playing regularly for their club team. Players like ‘Cata’ Dominguez and Rodolfo Cota, who are taking up the spots of young players hungry for game time.
Additionally, Tata continues to deny giving Javier ‘el Chicharito’ Hernandez a call-up. Mexico has struggled to score goals throughout 2021, and leaving out Mexico’s all-time goalscorer is leaving many scratching their heads. Martino has chosen the likes of Henry Martin, Raul Jimenez, and Rogelio Funes Mori over Chicharito. Jimenez is still far away from his best form after being out last season, so it’ll take time for him to get to his best. Players like Henry Martin and Rogelio Funes Mori have failed to capitalize for Mexico in important games. Nevertheless, snubbing a player who scored 17 goals in the MLS this year over 3 players far from the best is very illogical.
Ignoring Young Talent
As mentioned above, the Mexican talent is constantly being ignored by the coaching staff. This past summer, Mexico’s u24 squad won the bronze medal in the 2021 Olympics. Two years ago, Mexico’s u17 team reach the final of the 2019 FIFA u17 World Cup, just falling short of the trophy to Brazil. Nevertheless, it is clear that the young talent is there but is just not given the opportunity.
Many will say that the Mexican youngsters are ‘too young and inexperienced’ to play these crucial games. They’ll claim that they’d rather see the ‘more experienced’ players play since they know what it’s like to play for Mexico. My response to this is: if you never give these young players the chance, they’ll never gain that experience.
The biggest example of this is shown in Mexico’s biggest rivals: the USMNT. Gregg Berhalter has constantly given opportunities to young American players like Ricardo Pepi and Brendan Aaronson. The U.S. has been undergoing a generational chance ever since they missed out on the last world cup, and so far, putting the youngsters on the field is setting them up for success.
There’s players like Gerardo Arteaga, a 23 year-old playing in europe, who are being snubbed for the likes of Jesus Gallardo. Players who can match the speed of the American and Canadian players. Out of all the players who participated in these past olympics, only 5 were called up for this international camp. And out of those 5, only one of them played both games, which clearly isn’t enough.
Bad Game Management
Tata Martino has also been questioned for his game tactics. Martino is known for using a 4-3-3 formation, playing with one defensive midfielder with two holding midfielders. Regardless of the opponent, Mexico’s coach likes to set up this way. Unfortunately, this formation limits Mexico’s offensive game as the 3 midfielders are constantly sitting deeper on the pitch.
As mentioned above, ‘la Selección Mexicana’ has struggled to score goals, and this formation doesn’t help resolve this conflict. During both games, Mexico had more possession and passes completed than the opposition. The problem is that Mexico was missing that final push in the attack. This could’ve been resolved with the inclusion of an attacking midfielder like Sebastian Cordova (surprise, surprise, a young talent) to have more possession in the opponent’s area.
Additionally, Martino’s in-game tactics haven’t been good at all. Throughout the second half against the United States, Mexico was constantly playing ‘kickball’ due the lack of control in the midfield. Instead of putting a player like Guardado, who can hold the ball and play forward, Tata sat back and didn’t anything. In fact, Martino didn’t make a substitution until the USMNT opened the score in the 75′ minute. By that time, it was impossible to revert the situation as no changes were made in the defensive side. Ironically, this was where Mexico’s errors were constantly occurring.
Conclusion: Hope For Better Times
A lot else could be said, but it’ll all point back to why Tata should be relieved. In these past 3 years, Martino has regressed from being seen as the game-changer to just another coach. Nevertheless, Mexico’s hopes of reaching ‘el quinto partido’ seems farther than ever before. Mexico fans can only hope for a miracle at this point to look up to Qatar 2022.
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