What does Miguel Herrera do now?

imageHerrera was confirmed to stay on as Mexico’s World Cup manager on Monday (Images: Reuters)

Mexico boss Miguel Herrera earned a chance to take El Tri to Brazil by dispatching New Zealand next month. His instant success prompted FMF executives and Liga MX owners to remove his interim tag on Monday and trust him with the mighty task of leading his country into the World Cup.

Herrera must guide Mexico through a convoluted and tricky path between the draw in Bahia on Friday and the first match at an undisclosed location next June. The long and arduous road will determine whether this proud country extends its record of success (five consecutive appearances in the round of 16) or succumbs to the frailties exposed by the Hexagonal.

There is no time to waste to ensure the former scenario ultimately prevails. Herrera will draw up his list of priorities once he completes his Liguilla duties. It should read something like this:

1. Reach an accord with Carlos Vela: The exiled Real Sociedad star functions as an alluring distraction from the matters at hand. Herrera needs his ability to supply additional thrust in the final third. He must figure out a way to tempt Vela back into the fold without sacrificing the boundaries established during his interim tenure. If he cannot coax Vela back to national team duty, then he must draw a firm line under the situation to avoid the recurring sideshows as the preparations commence in earnest.

2. Form the European-based foundation: Vela’s status dovetails neatly with the uncertainty permeating through the rest of the stars flourishing abroad. Herrera omitted every last one of them from the excursion against New Zealand. He cannot afford such a draconian stand ahead of the trip to Brazil, but he must also weigh the benefits, the drawbacks and the realities of their individual situations as well. The inclusions of Giovani dos Santos (creativity), Javier Hernández (precision) and Héctor Moreno (solidity) appear somewhat compulsory given the talent pool. Herrera can adopt a more pragmatic approach to the likes of Javier Aquino, Jesús Corona, Andrés Guardado, Héctor Herrera, Guillermo Ochoa and Diego Reyes as he assesses his options and contemplates how to build a cohesive unit.

imageChicharito Hernandez figures to be a big part of El Tri’s World Cup plans

3. Identify the vital holdovers: The number of foreign-based players included naturally restricts the places available to players selected for the two-legged triumph over New Zealand. A few of those players – Miguel Layún, Carlos Peña and Oribe Peralta feature on that list at the moment – will keep their places. Several others will drop down the pecking order or out of the reckoning entirely. Herrera cannot afford to allow sentiment to take hold here: he must retain only the players capable of transitioning to a higher, World Cup-bound standard.

4. Reinforce the fundamental principles: Herrera can help his own cause by retaining a few of the players from the successful playoff voyage to espouse his ideas over the next few months. The departing Club América manager cultivated a specific approach within his 5-3-2 setup and installed it for the national team prior to the two matches against the All Whites. The presence of several América stalwarts made the process a bit easier. The increased familiarity among the potential squad options permits Herrera to lean on those players for support as he attempts to integrate his foreign-based players into the defined roles suited to their talents.

5. Put those ideas into practice: The last prong could prove the most troublesome given the dearth of FIFA dates between now and the start of the World Cup next June. Herrera must wring every last bit of usefulness out of the scheduled friendly for domestic-based players against South Korea in San Antonio on Jan. 29 and then schedule other rigorous tests along the way to examine his options. The magnitude of the task ahead ensures he cannot afford to waste any opportunity to mold this side in his own image.



Five points to El Tri’s friendly vs. Finland

Mexico interim boss Miguel Herrera spent the past couple of weeks preparing his revamped squad for the modest test ahead against Finland tonight in San Diego.

They must start to show the necessary progress in those labors. This encounter with the domestic-based Finns offers the only opportunity to take the field prior to the World Cup playoff with New Zealand next month. It is not an opportunity El Tri can afford to squander.

Herrera must evaluate his chosen starting XI (more on his team selection in a moment) and sift through his squad. He cannot afford to waste time with a system to implement and more players to integrate with his regulars from Club América. With those tenets in mind, Herrera must ponder a few quandaries as the spectacle unfolds at Qualcomm Stadium:

Mexico (5-3-2): Munoz; Aguilar, Márquez, Rodríguez, Valenzuela, Layún; Medina, Peña, Montes; Jiménez, Peralta

1. Is seven too many?: Herrera opted to include seven Club América players in his starting XI to face Finland. It makes sense to include them to facilitate the transition to the 5-3-2 setup, but their enduring presence raises questions about whether Herrera is making the best use of the resources available to him. His stars must produce against a poor opponent in order to justify his faith and validate his decision to lean so heavily upon them.

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Assessing Miguel Herrera’s first squad selection for El Tri

imageMexico interim boss Miguel Herrera possesses exactly one friendly to build a cohesive unit and install his preferred 5-3-2 formation prior to the World Cup playoff with New Zealand next month.

His best idea to further both of those goals: lean on the players he knows to help espouse the principles he wants to implement.

Herrera named 10 América players in his 22-man squad for the match against Finland on Oct. 30. Those established players will offer guidance to the remaining 12 – including a mix of some veterans and some fresh faces pluck from throughout Liga MX – as Herrera attempts to assess his options now and construct his squad for the opening leg against the All Whites on Nov. 13 later.

Goalkeepers: Jesús Corona (Cruz Azul), Moisés Muñoz (América)

Consider this choice as a litmus test for the extent of América’s influence in the side. Corona probably deserves the first glance here based upon his displays for José Manuel de la Torre earlier in the year, but Muñoz possesses the faith and the trust of the manager at club level.

Defenders: Paul Aguilar (América), Adrián Aldrete (América), Edwin Hernández (León), Miguel Herrera (Pachuca), Miguel Layún (América), Rafael Márquez (León), Hiram Mier (Monterrey), Francisco Rodríguez (América), Rodrigo Salinas (Morelia), Juan Carlos Valenzuela (América)

Herrera named five centerback specialists to comprise the three-man bedrock of his back line. Seasoned operators Márquez (in the middle, for now) and Rodríguez (on the right side of the three) likely hold the inside track to two of those spots. It simply doesn’t make sense to include them in the setup if they aren’t expected to play. Their potential inclusion places a premium on pace to complete the central defensive trio. Aldrete (the interloper) and Valenzuela (the regular choice and the potential favorite to plug this spot until Héctor Moreno is included) split time in the remaining vacancy on the left side of the three for América. Miguel Herrera and Mier present right-sided alternatives.

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