Coach and commentator on FOX Deportes’ leading soccer program La Ultima Palabra, Jose Luis “El Chelis” Sanchez Sola is known for shooting straight from the hip when he talks soccer and he’s not changed in the five months he has been out of a coaching job.
Since being fired as Chivas USA manager, Chelis has been keeping busy traveling, training kids in Puebla, as well as working as a pundit, but after chatting a little, you get more than a feeling he’d love to still be in Southern California trying to get Chivas USA on the right path.
“It was a great opportunity and I was very happy being in Los Angeles, very happy,” lamented Chelis in a phone interview with Goal USA on Monday.
Losing his job was obviously a bitter experience and the former jeweler says he is looking to return to management, but will only do it under his own terms, after feeling underwhelmed and let down by recent stints at Estudiantes Tecos, Correcaminos and Chivas USA.
“I want to coach, but I want to coach something that I feel, where I’m part of the plan and that I don’t feel utilized” said Chelis. “That’s when we can see a better version of El Chelis.”
He emphasized: “In the last three places I’ve been, I’ve not felt part of the project, I feel I’ve been used.”
The 54-year-old has good things to say about MLS and its growth, but believes more aspiring young players should be working their way up the youth ranks in professional clubs rather than going to college to play.
“There are colleges that play three months a year and the player loses a lot,” he opined.
But Chelis – who became almost a cult figure for Chivas USA fans - also believes that Mexico can learn much from the United States when it comes to organization in football and laments the hazy leadership in that, he believes, has led to the fiasco El Tri currently finds itself in attempting to qualify for Brazil 2014.
“The big problem in our football is that there isn’t a leader, there isn’t a figurehead to follow,” he lamented. “Without that, the rest hangs loose.”
“Look at it from the other side,” continued Chelis. “One of the great virtues the USA has is the order and business discipline with which soccer is run.”
Another factor Chelis thinks El Tri has lacked recently is a strong on-field identity that takes advantage of the types of players Mexico has.
“We (Mexicans) have a style, we have virtues and we have defects, but (the coaches) haven’t known how to take advantage of the positives the players have,” said Sanchez Sola. “The Mexican player has positive characteristics.”
On social media and in Puebla, there is regular chatter about a return to the days of the “Chelis Boys” at his hometown club, when he created something a little bit special by taking La Franja back into the first division and getting it challenging for the title on a couple of occassions.
Chelis would like to go back to the club one day, but bridges will have to be mended for it to happen and it doesn’t seem likely anytime soon.
“It is distant, there are other much greater problems that aren’t football-related, but of course I’d like to.”
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