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Aug 19, 2014

Pumas' future is in their past

Guillermo Vazquez led Pumas to their last Mexican league title in 2011.
Guillermo Vazquez led Pumas to their last Mexican league title in 2011.

LOS ANGELES - The prodigal son in search of prodigies. Memo Vázquez is returning to the Pumas. Reconciliation is the slogan, after a previous, bitter break-up.

Let's remind ourselves: Vázquez abandoned Pumas because they were not renewing his contract and were stingy in the investments in the search for reinforcements.

Club vice-president Alberto García Aspe had his wallet full and his common sense empty. He spent, he squandered -- because he had never invested -- a fortune in compensating Veracruz for bringing in Joaquín del Olmo as the coach. He also spent freely on very costly contracts, of which all of them failed.

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With García Aspe the carnage of Pumas started, because he got rid of young players, spending his budget on waste, for which his ingenuity made him believe that they were solutions.

With what he spent on snatching Del Olmo away from Veracruz, he would have kept Vázquez, whom didn't feel bad in knowing that with the salary from Cruz Azul he could go home with plenty tucked away. Vázquez has the capacity in his genes. And in addition to the benefit of sitting himself down at the family table to talk about football, with his father, in his namesake, and one of the best men to watch football in Mexico.

We have questioned his temperament. As a player he was a relentless hound dog, of physical strength and robust when it was necessary, although he knew how to play with the ball. As a coach, he seems exaggeratedly conservative.

He gave Pumas their most recent title and gave them moments of competitive health, although not footballing splendour. Let's not forget that his appetite for football was confidently deformed by his most recent tutor: Ricardo 'Tuca' Ferretti.

Can Vázquez rescue Pumas, with the help of the sporting director Antonio Sancho?

He has a practical squad. Organising it, comfortable in the background, with little risk, he could even get into the Liguilla. But in order to take it to a respectable level he must stabilise the squad, renew it for next year, and advocate, because the fortunes that have been squandered haven't exhausted the university coffers.

However, for genes too, for inheritance too and for formation and origins, both Vázquez and Sancho know that it isn't enough to gain emergency points, nor hoping for an honest promoter that wishes to help them with quality contracts for next season.

Pumas' salvation is a long journey. It is a demanding process. The authentic resurrection is in the young players, in the nursery, in the incubator, which has stopped being prolific and generous. The last coaches have turned into scarecrows, into practitioners of footballing waste with Pumas youth squads.

The team will be able to resolve the immediate future and in a mediocre way, even in a tournament such as the current one, but the true regeneration of the club must come through its formation of footballers.

Who was the last great footballer trained by the Pumas?

Who was the last great export when there were great players that came before such as Hugo Sánchez, Luis García, Luis Flores and Manuel Negrete?

Who from Pumas' youth team has been an authentic representation of Pumas? For years, Pumas was the genuine architect of the Mexican national team and several clubs in the League.

There were times in which Pumas placed graduates from its youth team as leaders of other clubs. The important thing is that Vázquez and Sancho find the formula in returning to the belly where players such as themselves were raised, and of course, finding many better than themselves.

Rafael Ramos Villagrana

Rafa Ramos is a ESPNDeportes.com staff writer, based in Los Angeles. He is regularly featured on ESPN Deportes Radio's popular Raza Deportiva, and frequently appears on various TV shows. Before ESPN, Rafa was a journalist for L.A.'s La Opinión newspaper, where he covered El Tri through a number of World Cup appearances. He has over 100,000 followers on Twitter @rafaramosESPN

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