Matias Almeyda does not travel lightly. The former Argentina midfielder arrived in Guadalajara with his suitcases in tow over the weekend for talks with Chivas. He held court in the airport as the latest sign of upheaval for a club in perpetual search of the latest quick fix to live up to its own lofty expectations.
The inevitable ax followed on Monday. Former Mexico boss José Manuel de la Torre officially joined the laundry list of managers ushered out the door on the watch of Angelica Fuentes and Jorge Vergara since the duo took charge of the club in 2002. Chepo left for the second time with a series of platitudes all too familiar after the struggles over the past few years.
"The club has not achieved the required results to date, forcing us to take this difficult decision and find another way to achieve the goals of the club and meet the expectations of our fans," the club said in a statement.
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De la Torre returned to the club last October in a bid to somehow subdue the tumult of the past few years. He offered the prospect of stability for a club troubled by a complete absence of long-term planning. His appointment conjured memories of the club's last Liga MX title back in 2006 and presented a chance to steer the side back on course after years in the wilderness.
For a while, it worked. De la Torre constructed a firm defensive base with the parts on hand. The corresponding focus on solidity shored up lingering issues at the back and steered the side toward more manageable operating principles. There were concerns about playing just one up front, but those issues were salved by the increased return and the improvement in results.
Chivas found the proper footing during the Clausura. De la Torre mixed and matched according to the opposition. The results outstripped the performances on occasion, but the end product -- fifth place in the table and safety from the drop with room to spare -- justified those measures. The safe pair of hands steered Chivas to safety.
Those remedial measures floundered over the summer as Chivas targeted further progress. The squad lacked the energy to implement those rigid principles once again, while the dearth of precision up front left little margin for error. Instead of building upon the modest dawns from the spring, the Red-and-White opened with seven points from eight matches and started to peer nervously at the relegation table once more.
Chivas' current perch -- only recently promoted Dorados de Sinaloa rank below them in the relegation table -- inspired the same sort of nervous reaction too often provoked during the Fuentes-Vergara reign. The defeat at Club Tijuana on Friday eventually proved the decisive moment. Almeyda landed with an eye on taking charge. De la Torre took his leave shortly thereafter to become the seventh manager ousted in Guadalajara since the start of 2013.
It is a decision fraught with executive fallout -- Chivas president Nestor de la Torre is likely on his way out after the decision to sack his brother, after all -- and inherent peril for a club already roiled by the acrimony between Fuentes and Vergara.
Former Argentina midfielder Almeyda boasts no experience in Mexican soccer and brings a modest résumé to the job. Almeyda guided River Plate and Banfield to titles in the Argentine second division, but he resigned from his post in August after an uneven season in the first division.
Only Fuentes and Vergara -- or the person charged with actually making that decision as the high-profile duo grapple for control as they proceed with their divorce, for that matter -- can explain how those meager credentials warrant an opportunity to pull Chivas out of the relegation mire. Almeyda, rather understandably, did not appear too keen to question his apparent good fortune.
"Chivas is one of the largest clubs in the world," Almeyda told MedioTiempo on Sunday. "The philosophy of not having foreigners in the team is very strong and very striking. I think it is virtuous for a club to have players only from their country."
The strength of the club and the principles behind it often drift into the background now. Chaos and turmoil dominate instead. It is why Almeyda would be wise to keep those suitcases near the door if he takes charge as expected. He will likely need them again soon enough.