Rafa Márquez and the absurd illusion that he could lead the Mexican National Team to glory
Rafa Márquez cemented a unique career in Mexican soccer. Nobody won the Champions League before or after him (Jonathan dos Santos did it, but let’s be honest, nobody remembers him because he did it as a bench player). In the Mexican National Team he played five World Cups and marked an era. Yes, that he made mistakes is true, but without his presence, many black nights would have been guaranteed. There is no discussion when talking about him as a footballer, but as a coach he is still in a training process.
That is why he directs Barcelona Atlhétic, the subsidiary of FC Barcelona. Among the names that sound to reach the Mexican National Team, yours has emerged. It was argued, from various sectors, that with him you can replicate what Argentina did with Lionel Scaloni, an inexperienced technical director who took office and led La Albiceleste to glory in Qatar 2022. It is not that simple. I wish that in football and in life everything would come down to recipes to imitate. Done, success would be a matter of imitation.
Is incredible. There is talk of a thousand and one profiles. From real, feasible and dream candidates. It has gone from Luis Enrique until the return of Miguel Herrera. And no one talks about methods or projects. How can you expect Mexican soccer to experience real growth if you don’t even know what you want? The journalist André Marín said in a column last December, for Mediotiempo, that Márquez is very prepared and that he knows Mexican soccer perfectly. And no one could doubt it: he has trained thoroughly in Europe and had great teachers as coaches. But there is no need to rush processes and fall into imitation just because.
Because one thing is the structural problems of Mexican soccer that we all know: that it is mediocre, that it does not promote young players, that it is stuck in a competition system that allows anyone to fight for the title and to any other to escape the consequences of a poor performance. But another thing is to talk about the context, about what is on top; El Tri does not have a coach and as long as he does not have one, they are all candidates, even though there is no idea of what is wanted for the team and for speaking of options that are so distant from each other.
You cannot compare Rafa Márquez with Scaloni or Zidane. It is sin of naivety. In fact, although they are both examples close in time, the tendency to fail on the part of those who were illustrious players and entered the world of technical management is more prevalent in soccer. Scaloni, for example, was not a player of origin but in Argentina they saw in him something more than his resume as a player: his ideas, his project and the conviction that he could take care of a hot potato. And in his coaching staff, as assistants, there were men who were much more brilliant than him as a player: Pablo Aimar, Walter Samuel, Roberto Ayala.
“Being Mexican, I believe that the illusion is there and the dream of being the coach of the Mexican National Team. Today my objectives are very clear, which is to continue developing and learning. I am in a position that can give me a lot of learning and even that doesn’t have those guarantees, we don’t know when,” Márquez said in an interview last year with TUDN. He knows that the opportunity will come to him, but he must also understand, and everyone who puts him up as a candidate must understand, that he cannot go to war without a rifle. He has a way to go before taking the reins of the Tri. And that does not mean that his trajectory has been immense.
Finally, and of course, there is the aspect of the raw material: Mexico cannot be compared in talent with what Argentina has. Neither in quality nor in quantity. The contexts are totally different to suggest that because Scaloni triumphed in Argentina because he was young in Mexico, Márquez can also do it. This is not how things work in football and it is better to accept it before being disappointed.