Johan Cruyff’s hiring in February of this year as special consultant to FC Chivas de Guadalajara in the Mexican league was seen by many as a pr stunt. His job was never quite articulated so many wondered what the former dutch internationalist would be doing day-to-day and with little to no connection to Chivas before the appointment, why he was going in the first place. Cruyff was not lacking opportunities with both Liverpool and Tottenham apparently keen on hiring him as director of football. Neither did in the end, but Cruyff’s next role, at the age of 65 was more likely to be closer to his homes in Spain and Holland than across the Atlantic in Mexico. Nevertheless, the legendary figure accepted his new role in February 2012 from owner Jorge Vergara, in an apparent response to the clubs poor run of form that season.
Chivas for those who aren’t aware are the most successful club in Mexico, having won 11 league titles and numerous cups since its foundation in 1906. It’s current first team contains some of Mexico’s brightest prospects like midfielder Marco Fabián and striker Erick Torres, both of whom are being watched carefully by a host of European clubs following Mexico’s surprise victory in the London Olympics this summer. Despite the positive feelings about the club and its booming youth setup, Chivas has its fair share of problems. Since Jorge Vergara took over at the club in 2002, he has not been far away from controversy. In 2003, whilst attending an MLS conference, he publicly announced that the league would have a Chivas expansion team in it – Chivas USA, which indeed happened the following year. Whether that was as planned by the MLS or more forced upon them is anyone’s guess. Chivas USA has done well in the league since its inception, embracing the US style of play, growing its fan base and even introducing its own cheerleaders, the Chiva Girls. Vergara has other expansion plans and has been proactively looking for further ways to extend the Chivas brand to anyone who listens but so far has been unsuccessful.
Meanwhile back in Mexico, Vergara’s patience for managers is well-known to be minimum. Chivas has churned through its fair share of managers in his time in charge, growing similarities to a well-known British club with a russian billionaire of the same ilk. When Cruyff was brought in earlier this year, his first job was to find a new manager so the legend turned to fellow Dutchman John van ‘t Schip as the man he wanted. Hired in April, his task was simple – to win but so far the Dutchman has had limited success which may have ultimately led to his countryman’s dismissal earlier this week.
On Monday the club released a press statement stating that Cruyff no longer had a position at Chivas and had his contract terminated with immediate effect:
“The club has decided to terminate the services and consultancy with the company of Mr Johan Cruyff. This is because of not meeting the outcomes and objectives that have been established since the beginning of the contractual relationship. The coaching Staff will not be affected, therefore technical director, trainer and technical assistants will continue to work with the club. The club thank Mr Johan Cruyff for the support and collaboration he has provided.”
This was news to Cruyff who found out of his sacking by various news sources and social media sites. He hasn’t been able to speak to the club to confirm it, but the release by Chivas leaves little grey areas around what they are trying to say. Cruyff is understandably confused and upset by the recent events and spoke to a dutch newspaper yesterday about his apparent dismissal:
“I don’t know anything about it, I’m finding out about it now. I’m trying to find out what’s going on”
Whether Chivas were right to terminate Cruyff’s contract will be in the hands of his lawyers and no doubt FIFA but from the clubs prospective, they felt they brought him in to do a job which he had failed at. Chivas are not ready to get rid of their manager and are keeping faith with John van ‘t Schip, for the time being at least. However if Jorge Vergara’s record is anything to go by, Van ‘t Schip may be following Cruyff out of the revolving door at Chivas shortly.