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 By Tom Marshall

More questions than answers from Palencia's resignation from Chivas

Francisco Palencia, left, resigned his post as Chivas sporting director and rumors are strong that head coach Carlos Bustos, center, will soon be following Palencia out the door.
Francisco Palencia, left, resigned his post as Chivas sporting director and rumors are strong that head coach Carlos Bustos, center, will soon be following Palencia out the door.

GUADALAJARA, Mexico -- Francisco "Paco" Palencia resigned as Chivas' sporting director on Tuesday, with the club in the midst of a crisis and in danger of relegation.

The 41-year-old former Chivas player indicated in a press conference that he had done all he could for the club, that there had been differences of opinion on how to move forward and added he is going to concentrate on becoming a coach. He also thanked the club's owners and staff for the opportunity.

But there is no ducking or avoiding the fact that the resignation once again highlights the instability at Chivas. The Guadalajara club appears to be a rudderless ship without direction and Palencia's leaving once again raises plenty of questions for a storied institution bouncing from one failed project to another.

1. What about coach Carlos Bustos?

Nothing was mentioned in Tuesday's press conference about the future of Bustos, but the force of rumors about him leaving has made his position close to untenable. Just two wins in nine matches and 15th position in the league isn't good enough. And if that wasn't enough, the team has put in its worst performances of the season over the last ten days.

The Argentine took training as usual at the Verde Valle training complex on both Monday and Tuesday and it seems he will be on the Chivas bench for Thursday's difficult trip to Toluca.

2. What happened to make Palencia quit?

Palencia joined Chivas at the end of 2012, just after Dennis te Kloese was announced as sporting president. Te Kloese was relieved of his duties one year later in December 2013, to be replaced by Juan Manuel Herrero, who resigned this past June. It has been hectic.

But it was the arrival of Rafa Puente Jr. last May that appeared to make Palencia's position uncomfortable. The 35-year-old former player, TV pundit and actor came in with a specific set of ideas and both he and Palencia appeared to be vying for the attention and influence of owner Jorge Vergara.

Just last week, Palencia stated on ESPN's Jorge Ramos y su Banda that Puente dealt with the logistical side of the club and that he was in charge of signing players, deciding on coaches and the soccer side of things.

While Palencia didn't go on the attack in his press conference, it appears he blinked before Puente.

3. Who is now running the club, planning for the future?

One of the reasons for Bustos staying on could be that the power struggle inside the club needed to be resolved before real decisions could be made. It is even conceivable that Palencia -- who stated he now wants to coach -- demanded the job for himself and was left with no option but to quit when it wasn't granted.

It seems now that Puente will be the principal decision-maker under Vergara. The young director can't count on much experience in his new role and with Bustos only having coached fewer than 50 Liga MX games in total when he joined over the summer, the set-up without Palencia is void of big-hitters.

They aren't the kind of steady, experienced hands that would seem ideal to steer Chivas out of relegation danger.

4. Where does it all leave the ownership?

News spilled out Monday -- via ESPN FC's Jeff Carlisle -- that MLS outfit Chivas USA, which Vergara sold back to MLS eight months ago, is going on hiatus. It looks to be the final nail in the coffin of an institution was a disaster both on and off the field in the latter years of its existence.

Coupled with Vergara's sale of Costa Rican outfit Saprissa in 2011 and a pattern emerges that suggests the owner -- a successful businessman away from soccer -- is a rational actor that will cut his losses when need be.

At present and over the last few years, Chivas Guadalajara can't have been more than a constant headache.

5. And the players?

Those who pull on the famous red-and-white Chivas jersey week-in, week-out must take their share of the blame for the failure of the club.

Players like Aldo de Nigris, Carlos Salcido, Fernando Arce and Israel Castro are all known for their consistency and professionalism. They should've been safe bets to lift the club. Yet the failure of those coming into Chivas to reach the standards they have set elsewhere, combined with the success of those leaving, point to a malaise at the club that filters down from the top.

It must be difficult to go out and perform at 100 percent with the constant changes, unknowns, lack of support in the Estadio Omnilife and the threat of relegation hanging over the whole institution.

Tom Marshall covers Liga MX and the Mexican national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @MexicoWorldCup.


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