Commonly known to El Tri fan´s and followers of Mexican domestic football as piojo, Spanish for louse, Miguel Ernesto Herrera Aguirre is definitely a character as the world was able to see in the recent World Cup in Brazil. Football or soccer is like all aspects of sport if not life in that it needs characters and personalities and Miguel Herrera certainly passes the test with flying colours.
Herrera spent his playing career as a defender where between 1986 and 2000 he played in Mexico for Atlante, Santos Laguna, Queretaro and Toros Neza. His playing career spanned a total of 380 games in which he also managed to score 21 goals. Between 1993 and 1994 he received all his 14 caps playing for Mexico and was also a participant in the 1993 Copa America in Ecuador where Mexico reached the final only to lose 2-1 to eventual winners Argentina.
After retiring from playing in 2000, it wasn’t until 2002 that Herrera ventured into the minefield that is present day football management. Between 2002 and 2013 he managed Atlante, Monterrey, Veracruz, Estudiantes Tecos and Club America before being appointed head coach of the Mexican national team.
As a club manager he experienced mixed fortunes. In 2004 he coached Monterrey to the finals only to lose to UNAM and in 2005 he was again on the losing side only this team against Deportivo Toluca. In 2008, at Veracruz, he was unable to stop the team from being relegated. When he left Veracruz in 2008, he tried to restore the fortunes of Estudiantes Tecos but in the end ended up being fired. On his return to Atlante in 2011, he coached the team to a quarter final where they lost to Cruz Azul. After failing to get Atlante into the playoffs again he didn’t renew his contract with the club.
Herrera´s last appointment before taking over the reigns of El Tri or the Mexcian national team was at Club America, where he achieved his biggest managerial achievement to date. In 2013 he guided Club America to the finals where they defeated Cruz Azul 4-2 on penalties.
The Mexican Football Association were taking note and in October 2013 Herrera was appointed as head coach of the Mexcian national team. The style of football that Mexico displayed at the 2014 Brazil World Cup is similar to how Club America were playing. Both teams played in a fast and direct style allowing players to enjoy and express themselves. There was also a strong emphasis on defence which said to their opponents “ you breakus down if you want to beat us “. El Tri defended as a team and attacked with pace. The team was also not over coached with tactics and even for the neutral fan Mexico are now a joy to watch.
Miguel Herrera, he may not be everybody´s cup of tea or boast the coaching credentials of many other managers but despite Mexico having a shocking World Cup qualifying campaign, the performances of El Tri in Brazil have renewed the teams fans belief in them and created doubts into any opponent who thinks that they are going to have an easy game against Mexico.
Herrera also may not please all players, fans or pundits but watching his honest genuine passion and him wearing his heart on his sleeve on the sidelines is a joy to watch in what is now a game which is dominated by profit, television deals, merchandising, greed and corporate fans. I for one will be looking out for Mexico´s next game.