The relegation race in the Liga MX this 16/17 season has been intensifying with only two weeks left of the regular season. There are currently three teams involved with Chiapas, Monarcas Morelia and Veracruz all fighting to remain in the top flight of Mexican soccer.
Out of the three teams, Veracruz is the only franchise to have suffered relegation in its extensive history. The ‘tiburones’ have relegated four times in its 74 years of existence, the most recent time coming in 2008. Here is a look back at that 2007/2008 season that marked the downfall of the ‘escualos’.
Nery Alberto Pumpido began as the head coach in the Apertura 2007 competition to try and lead Veracruz in a contested relegation battle with Puebla and Tigres UANL. Pumpido had come in with some experience managing in the Argentine league and with Tigres UANL from 2003-2004. After Pumpido was not cutting it with eight losses in 11 games, Veracruz decided to hire another Argentine manager in Antonio Mohamed. “El Turco” took over in week 12 of the tournament and ended with a short spell at the club. Veracruz finished off the Apertura competition decently getting two wins, two draws and two losses under Mohamed.
While the numbers seem good on paper, the Argentine manager was at the helm during one of Veracruz’s worst losses ever. In week 16 of the Apertura 2007, the ‘escualos’ visited Pumas UNAM at the Estadio Olimpico Universitario. The game ended in an unbelievable 8-0 loss for Veracruz and marked the start of the downfall for the franchise. Ignacio Scocco and Esteban Solari played a huge role in the game for the Mexico City side scoring two goals each. A young and promising, Pablo Barrera who was set for a move to Europe also contributed with two goals of his own in the encounter.
Veracruz did finish the 2007 Apertura tournament with a promising 3-2 win over Tecos UAG but finished in penultimate place on the relegation table just ahead of Puebla. Antonio Mohamed remained as the manager at the start of the Clausura 2008 competition. But “El Turco” did not last, losing against Monarcas Morelia and Atlas and then being fired after just two weeks into the tournament. Miguel Herrera stepped in as Mohamed’s replacement at Veracruz in week 3. “El Piojo” started out with a decent 1-1 draw against Santos Laguna in his first game as the head coach of the ‘tiburones’.
Herrera finished the season with five draws, four wins and six losses which was not enough to save the franchise. The devastating blows to Veracruz came in week 13 and week 14. In week 13, the ‘escualos’ suffered its worst defeat with Herrera as manager, falling 7-2 to Monterrey. Humberto Suazo turned out to be Herrera’s worst nightmare, coming away with four goals from the encounter. Jared Borgetti also scored two goals while Egidio Arevalo Rios scored one goal for the ‘regios’. The defeat was a tough one for the organization and a week after that, Veracruz suffered its finishing blow of the season. The ‘tiburones’ fell 2-0 to direct relegation opponent Puebla which made relegation seem inevitable for Miguel Herrera and company.
Veracruz’s relegation was made official in week 16 against Pumas UNAM at the Estadio Luis “Pirata” Fuente. The ‘tiburones rojos’ suffered a 4-2 loss which put the nail in the coffin for the franchise in the 2007/2008 season. Two of Veracruz’s worst losses during this season came against Pumas UNAM, falling 8-0 in the Apertura 2007 and 4-2 in the Clausura 2008 sealing the team’s fate in the Ascenso MX. It is odd that in this 16/17 season a huge 2-0 win against Pumas UNAM is what may have saved Veracruz from relegation. Many notable players in Liga MX history comprised that 2007/2008 team with players like Hector Mancilla and Aldo De Nigris, who was 24 at the time. Luis Alonso Sandoval who played with nine different teams in his 11-year Liga MX career was also part of the team. Some other standouts included Marco Antonio “Pikolin” Palacios, Rodrigo “El Pony” Ruiz and a 19-year-old Miguel Layun.
Unlike that team, Veracruz will be looking to evade relegation in the coming weeks finishing off the season against tough opponents in Monterrey and Club Tijuana. The ‘tiburones’ are currently one point ahead of Chiapas and two points ahead of Morelia in this contested relegation battle. It should be interesting to see if Veracruz can save themselves this season with an abundance of problems that the organization has had over the course of the season.