Dream start for La Volpe in charge of Chivas
The cliche of a week being a long time in football may appear lazy, but it aptly suits Chivas over the past seven days. The club has gone from being destroyed at home by bitter rivals Club America 4-0 last Sunday, to a morale-boosting 3-1 road win over Pachuca on Saturday to lift the club once again into the playoff spots.
In-between, Jose Luis "Guero" Real was removed from his post as manager, while former Mexico national team coach Ricardo La Volpe came in as the latest experiment to lift the club from its long slumber.
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The feeling around the club's fans on social networks is always volatile, but has been notable for its optimism in the aftermath of the Pachuca game. La Volpe's Chivas were hungrier against Los Tuzos, the most noticeable difference being the increased intensity and players pressing Pachuca high up the field.
In terms of formation, the Argentine played a loose 4-2-3-1, with Patricio "Pato" Araujo dropping into the defense to allow fullbacks Gerardo Rodriguez and Omar Esparza to push up when Chivas had the ball.
The other difference was with Carlos Fierro, who was freed of his role under Real as an out-and-out right-winger. The freer role nominally playing to the left of Aldo de Nigris suited the youngster and he scored the goal to put Chivas 2-1 up -- from a calm ball by De Nigris -- and was the boost of confidence that could see him become an increasingly important figure under La Volpe.
Exactly the same can be said for Giovani Hernandez, who netted the equalizer and was freed from some of his defensive responsibility by having Araujo and Israel Castro behind him.
Youngster David "Avion" Ramirez was also handed the start and added a more direct style to Chivas' play down the right. There is obviously still a long way to go, but the players will already realize that La Volpe is serious.
Since taking over officially on Wednesday, the training sessions have been up to three hours long and La Volpe has been repeating plays again and again until they become second nature to players. On Thursday, a string of local media outlets had been given interview slots after training. On seeing the number, La Volpe complained.
"There is much work to do, I've got videos to watch," lamented the former Boca Juniors coach. Eventually, La Volpe agreed to talk to them all, but as a group, not individually.
The obsessive work-a-holic is back in Mexican soccer and probably knows it is his last chance of controlling a big club after a string of disappointments in his career since the 2006 World Cup. The Argentine looks determined not to let it slip through his fingers and, once again, change has brought a wave of optimism to Guadalajara.