Welcome back! Well it’s not been long since I left my post at Stellenbosch and I already have a new job! The language in the title may give it slightly away as to where I’m off. I had the choice of North America or Asia, Mexico, South Korea or China. The choices were endless, my reputation is high enough to be taking any job I want and after being offered quite a few roles I’ve eventually found the one that has taken my eye!
So let’s not hang about, I’m off to……MEXICO!!
What a badge that is!! That’s right I am the new Xolos Tijuana manager in the Mexican Liga Bancomer MX. I had numerous offers from other Mexican sides including Tigres and Cruz Azul but something about Tijuana took my eye!
After doing some research on the wonderful world of Google I noticed Tijuana is as close as you can get to the US border without being in the US!
Tijuana is based right in the North West of Mexico in Baja California.
The above picture is an artists impression of what the clubs ground looks like. The Estadio Caliente was built in 2007, expanded numerous times and in real life the ground will be increased to 33,333 seats in 2020. Obviously I am now well past that in game but the ground does have that capacity. What a gorgeous ground!
The club boasts relatively decent facilities…
- Excellent Training Facs
- Excellent Youth Facs
- Adequate Junior Coaching
- Good Youth Recruitment
The club have been in the top tier of Mexico since 2011, they won their first and only Opening Stage title in 2012 and in-game won their one and only Copa MX in 2030. The club ended 9th in the opening stage last season before ending 2nd in the closing stage, their highest position since their opening stage win.
This season we are expected to end 13th in the League, way down compared to what I expected.
Rules wise the Top 8 teams in the Opening Stage go into the Quarters Finals, straight knockouts to the final and the winner qualifies for the North American Champions League, this is the same for the Closing Stage.
Four teams in all qualify for the NACL and are allocated by Stage wins then by league positions.
There are some interesting other rules in the League and are all around Match Selections. There must be 9 players considered Mexican born in the 18-man squad. The other weird rule is the fact that I have make sure u21 domestic players play a combined total of 1000 minutes in the Opening Stage and the same in the Closing Stage. If not there will be a 3 points deduction! u22 players count in this as well but it is cut by 50%! Confused? Yep so am i!
Just to make it even more confusing they only take 270 minutes per game into account!
Anyway enough about the mental rules! Let’s take a look at the playing squad…
A very thin squad! And we have hardly anything in reserve/youth bar a few players already out on loan for 2 years! Players will need to be brought in, I will look to play my 4231 Tika-taka tactic from my time at Stellenbosch so I need to sign a GK, RB, LB, CM and a Striker at least!
Luckily we have £8.75m in transfer budget and £150k p/week in spare wages!
Let’s take a quick look at who I think will be my four key players…
Gonzalo Goni – Central Defender
Top quality! He may be slightly old but he can definitely do a good job for us. Great mentals, his pace is slightly low but I’m sure I can deal with that.
Bruno Amione – Central Defender
Another quality CB, Brilliant attributes all over and will be a massive player for me in the next few seasons.
Assael Sifuentes – Goalkeeper
What a goalie! His rushing out is scarily low but he makes up for that with his brilliant handling, one on ones and reflexes.
Pedro De La Vega – Attacking Midfield
The highest rated player at the club and I love his versatility, can play LW, RW, AM and ST.
So some great players but we clearly need to bring some more in!
Finally, let’s take a quick look at the club vision I agreed when taking over and also my expectations for my time here..
There we a couple of things in the “club culture” that I managed to removed when negotiating, these were “Play Possession Football” and “Sign Argentinian Players”. The Argentinian one is strange, we do have a lot of players from there but with the squad rules I had to remove it.
The board don’t have high expectations for the competitions. We are in a strange cup called “Leagues Cup” which contains certain teams from over North America, they expect us to get to the Quarters. They also agree with our odds in the season preview and want a mid-table finish this season.
As for me I am obviously keen to win the NACL as soon as possible. It’s not going to be as easy as it was in Africa and South America but I hope that we can get into the NACL within two seasons.
Season One for me is a free hit, we need reinforcements which will take time to settle so if we can get into the Top 8 and a Quarter Final spot in either the Opening or Closing Stage I’ll be happy.
Season Two I want to those Quarter Final spots in both stages and hope to win one of them giving us Champions League football.
Once we get into the NACL I hope to win it within 2-3 seasons! Big expectations but I’ve already proven I can do it!
Anyway, that’s all from me for now. Thanks for reading.