A third of the way through the season and fans and the teams they support are starting to get a sense of where they’re going to end up when the season concludes in May. Some teams have to be pretty happy where they are and what their prospects look like, while others are looking at where they think they can make adjustments to improve. The teams at the bottom of the table and their fans are no doubt starting to feel some pressure, and while that’s always healthy it can turn toxic if the pressure become panic. Pressure forces people to act, panic forces people to act quickly with little regard to thinking things through.
But should they feel justified in panicking? Who do you think should be feeling the pressure and who should be ready to pull the alarm on a full blown fire drill?
1.) Monterrey fans should panic, but the team should not – If there ever was a team that gave its fans cause to panic, it’s Monterrey. They’re the only winless team in the league and are in the process of going through a nasty breakup with Rodolfo Pizarro. After having a game-winning goal (rightly) reversed by VAR this past weekend, manager Antonio “Turco” Mohamed blew his stack, walking straight into a red card after the final whistle blew to berate the referees. Monterrey is clearly a club in disarray.
And while the fans are right to panic right now, the club itself shouldn’t. The Clausura was always going to be difficult for Rayados to get anything out of. Clubs can’t maintain the pace and form that Rayados ended the Apertura with, and the way Turco uses his players had been figured out by managers who now had tape on how he and Rayados operated. They had time to dissect and look for cracks in the armor while Monterrey fought their way through the Liguilla and Club World Cup. It’s going to take some time for Turco and team to adjust, and while it will make for a Clausura worth forgetting for Rayados fans I don’t think it’s cause to do anything drastic. There isn’t a lot of deadwood on the roster, and with the money they got for Pizarro they should be able to sign a suitable replacement.
2.) Puebla fans should panic, and the team probably should panic too – Puebla never seems to disappoint when it comes to being disappointing. Last season the team on paper had the talent to be competitive and wound up in 18th place. This season the team is significantly weaker after selling Lucas Cavallini to the Vancouver Whitecaps of Major League Soccer, and they’re in 17th place with just four points. The club has significant weaknesses up and down the lineup, and it’s not in their nature to go out and spend like one of the big clubs.
The good news is that Puebla still has games against some of the weaker teams in the league and could climb up the table with a few favorable results. Still the outlook for this season is pretty grim, and like Monterrey it might be best for Puebla to concentrate on the Apertura.
3.) Monarcas fans shouldn’t panic, and the team shouldn’t panic either – Monarcas sits in 16th place on the table but, with the exception of their loss to FC Juárez in Week 3, haven’t looked all that bad. Inconsistency has always been the knock on Morelia, with players like Sebastián Sosa and Gabriel Achilier epitomizing this. When they’re on, they’re among the best in the league. When they have an off game, it’s usually spectacularly poor. This season they’ve been on more often than they’ve been off, and the club has finally seemed to have found some good offensive talent in former FC Nantes and Philadelphia Union striker Fernando Aristeguieta, and Chivas loanee César Huerta has shown promise in the minutes he’s been granted.
My only qualm about this is I always seem to start believing this is the year Morelia turns a corner and every year they pull a Lucy Van Pelt — pulling the football away at the last second as I go sliding by.