2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™

11 June - 11 July

2010 FIFA World Cup™

Chucho: The man for Mexico?

"He doesn't have enough experience and the top job might be too much of him." Just one of the comments FIFA.com received from its users in the wake of the sacking of Mexico coach Hugo Sanchez and the temporary appointment of youth guru Jesus Ramirez.

It was a common refrain among readers, journalists and fans. However, 'Chucho' - as Ramirez is known - has one thing on his CV no other Mexican coach can claim: a FIFA World Cup title.

"My players formed a complete unit, which was what made all the difference," Ramirez told FIFA.com after hoisting aloft the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Peru in 2005. "Together we achieved something huge."

Thousands of fans turned out to greet the all-conquering team of teenagers when they returned to Mexico City. Faces were painted, flags were waved and the celebrations helped unite the football-mad country under the banner and promise of a brighter future.

*Inexperience an advantage? * A sense of unity may be just what the doctor ordered for the Mexican national team, whose dominance in the region is constantly under threat by reigning CONCACAF champions USA. Criticism of former coaches like Sanchez, and Argentine Ricardo Lavolpe before him, led to a poisonous atmosphere in the country's newsrooms, stadiums and bars, with motives, experience and club and national affiliations constantly questioned.

There are certainly some who believe that 'Chucho,' with his fresh optimism and limited experience at the top level, will be the recipient of a little less criticism and a little more understanding and patience than his predecessors. The long-time architect of Mexico's youth system, Ramirez's only experience in the country's top flight was as assistant coach of Necaxa in 2001 and Atlante in 2000. He previously spent time directing Atlante's youth program from 1995 to 1998.

Soft-spoken, calm and with the full respect of the younger players, 'Chucho' knows talent when he sees it. Barcelona gem Giovani Dos Santos, Osasuna and Arsenal's Carlos Vela, Cesar Villaluz of Cruz Azul, rumoured Manchester United target Guillermo 'Memo' Ochoa of Club America and Chivas ace Patricio Araujo are just some of the players who came of age under Ramirez's tutelage.

"These boys (the golden generation, as they are known) are going to revolutionise Mexican football. When we started out in 2002, I told them that they had the opportunity to change the face of football in our country," Ramirez told FIFA.com. "They can become a force to be reckoned with on the world stage. Their tremendous self-belief is the reason behind their successes so far."

When speaking to Ramirez, it is evident that he genuinely cares for his players, an essential quality in any top youth coach. "I've seen them mature, learn, grow as a team and become men. We've won a lot of trophies together and grown together," he said after a tight loss to eventual champions Argentina in the quarters of the U-20 finals in Canada last year. "The defeat pained me, but nothing will ever take away the joy of having coached such an exceptional bunch of lads."

*Past, present and future * Who better than Ramirez to usher these precocious youngsters into the senior national team and smooth their integration with veteran stalwarts such as Rafa Marquez, Pavel Pardo and Carlos Salcido? The question is a valid one, and the Mexican FA might do well to look north to their arch-rival United States as an example of a caretaker who turned out to have the right stuff after all.

The US Soccer Federation announced former university, youth and MLS coach Bob Bradley in interim charge as they hunted a promised "foreign coach with world-class credentials" to replace Bruce Arena in 2006. As the search extended from weeks to months, Bradley - using of a number of youth stars including his son Michael, Josi Altidore and Danny Szetela - made the job his own with a string of fantastic results.

Leading the US to a fourth CONCACAF crown with their win over Mexico, Bradley has gone on to amass a proud record of 13 wins (including three on European soil), five losses and two draws since taking the job.

Javier Aguirre, a former Mexico manager and international, Argentinian Jose Pekerman and Luiz Felipe Scolari, though committed to Portugal until after EURO 2008, have all been linked with the El Tri top job on a permanent basis.

The FA is expected to announce their full-time coach in the next few months, but in the meantime they may just find that the ideal man for the job is right under their noses.

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