De La Torre set to be named Mexico coach

Jose Manuel De La Torre looks set to be hired as the new Mexico coach Monday after the surprise withdrawal of the only other contender for the post.

Victor Manuel Vucetich, the coach of Mexican club Monterrey Rayados and the favorite for the national team job, pulled out of the selection process Saturday for personal reasons.

Like many things in Mexican soccer, however, it’s not quite so clear cut.

Mexican club owners who vote for the national team coach must now decide whether to hand the job to De La Torre, considered the second-choice candidate, or opt for more debating while other names are considered.

The national team has suffered a meltdown since losing to Argentina in the World Cup second round and the uncertainty surrounding the new coach is hardly the ideal way to start over.

The defeat to Argentina in South Africa was followed by the resignation of Javier Aguirre, with two interim coaches – Enrique Meza and Efrain Flores – taking the reins.

A group of 11 players, including World Cup captain Rafael Marquez, then threatened to go on strike in protest at national team director Nestor De La Torre’s decision to fine them for holding an all-night party in Monterrey following a friendly match with Colombia in September.

Two players – Carlos Vela of Arsenal and Efrain Juarez of Celtic – were suspended for six months after the same incident. The players eventually turned up for a friendly with Venezuela in October, but Nestor De La Torre resigned from his post hours before the game.

The team has only won once in its last four exhibition matches.

In a curious twist, Jose Manuel De La Torre – coach of Mexican club Toluca and Nestor’s brother – now seems the only viable option to rebuild El Tri’s fortunes after Vucetich withdrew.

"Let’s wait until the federation itself makes it official, but thank God I’m calm," said De La Torre. "I didn’t know what was going on with him."

Before pulling out, the experienced Vucetich – known as "King Midas" for his success in the Mexican domestic league – was considered the preferred choice.

"The family aspect is not an issue that changes overnight and I’ve always said I work for the family," Vucetich said. "You are required to spend a long time with the national team and that would be complicated for me.

"I’m conscious that it was a great opportunity, but I don’t want to wake up tomorrow and regret anything where my children are concerned … there are more important things for me and my priority right now is them and that’s why I took this decision."

If De La Torre is picked, the national job will cap a rapid rise through the coaching ranks.

De La Torre started his career as head coach in the 2006 Clausura tournament and already has three national titles to his name, building his Toluca side into arguably the most consistent performer in the Mexican league in recent years.

"The directors will decide the timetable, let’s wait and see what happens and that’s all, we’re all waiting," De La Torre said. "I feel ready, if I didn’t, I would have dropped out."