Legendary São Paulo Goalie Says El Tri’s New Coach Is a Mix Between Mourinho and Guardiola

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ESPN’s Mexican soccer beat writer Tom Marshall recently described the collective response to Juan Carlos Osorio’s appointment as new Mexico head coach as “a communal head scratch.”

On Saturday, the Mexican Football Federation announced that Osorio will take over for El Tri en route to Russia 2018. The 54-year-old Colombian also confirmed the news via his Twitter page, which bears the handle @OsorioMexico.

Osorio is a mystery man – almost every stage of his coaching career has been marked by an arrival met with confusion and general apathy, followed by eventual admiration and even recognition. He is, after all, a man with a tremendous amount of coaching knowledge, described as “comparable to coaches as meticulous as Portuguese trainer José Mourinho, who has methodical and comprehensive technical preparation.” He holds a UEFA A license, a coaching certificate from the Royal Netherlands Football Association, and a diploma in Science and Football from Liverpool John Moores University.

He’s obsessive and detail-oriented – a tactician at the core – and his meticulous planning and game-by-game analysis will be put to the test on November 13 when Mexico takes on El Salvador at home. Most recently, he’s been at the helm of Brazilian side São Paulo, where his influence has been lauded by the likes of legendary club goalkeeper Rogério Ceni.

To put the following remarks in context: Rogério won 18 major titles with São Paulo, including three league championships and two Copa Libertadores. He’s also the first and only goalkeeper to score more than 100 goals in his career, a truly mind-boggling achievement.

His career extends beyond the two-decade mark, which means that he’s played under and faced off against an extensive list of coaches. With this in mind, it seems like the last thing we should do is take his comments comparing Osorio to the tops of the world – the Guardiolas and Mourinhos – lightly. Check this: in June of this year, Rogério went so far as to say that Osorio is one of the best South American coaches around. The best! “I would say that he’s one of the best coaches, one of the best of South America. I’ve worked with many qualified people and Osorio is what one sees in Europe in people like Guardiola and Mourinho, who have built great teams.”

Maybe our communal head scratch should transform itself into a collective fist pump? Osorio’s attacking style will certainly mold itself to the players at his disposal with Mexico, but the awesome thing is that El Tri has so much attacking fire that this could (and should) turn into something really special.

In a separate interview, Rogério told MedioTiempo that Osorio’s coaching style is characterized by two principles: “hard work every day with a diversity of training exercises” and a “tactical vision.” He also applauded the Colombian’s ability to motivate despite language barriers, stating that he has a “motivational influence on the team.”

It doesn’t take much to see the disappointment from the São Paulo camp with respect to Osorio’s departure, but it seems like all parties involved realize that you can’t just turn down an opportunity to coach a team to a World Cup. Even Rogério himself knows it: “I’m happy even when a professional leaves São Paulo for something special, and a national team is something special.”