Chivas hires former Chicago Fire coach Veljko Paunovic

Liga MX's Chivas announced the hiring of Veljko Paunovic -- former coach for MLS' Chicago Fire FC and Championship side Reading FC -- as manager on Monday night.

Club president Amaury Vergara and technical director Fernando Hierro, who was hired last month, were on hand to introduce Paunovic before he spoke to the media on Tuesday.

"I want to thank the family, the entire Chivas family, the Vergara family and Fernando Hierro for the trust placed in me to carry out this great project," Paunovic said in Spanish. "A project that we are all very eager to contribute to."

The 45-year-old Serbian manager, who made a name for himself as a versatile attacker in the late 1990s and early 2000s for Atletico Madrid, noted the problems he would aim to fix at Chivas in a video posted by the club on Monday night, just hours after they announced on social media that he would become the new coach.

"The first diagnosis is that there is a lack of confidence, a lack of conviction and a lack of courage. I believe that you can't play with fear, you have to have tremendous courage," the new Chivas manager said in a video.

Chivas is one of the two most popular clubs (along with rivals Club America) in Mexico, but despite having the second-most Liga MX championships (12) in history, Los Rojiblancos haven't reached a league final since their last title in 2017.

After struggling to just five wins in the 2022 Apertura season, Chivas limped into the play-in round of the playoffs in ninth place. Then in the first round of the postseason against Puebla, Chivas finished with a 1-1 draw in regulation time before being knocked out 5-4 on penalties, denying them a place in the final eight of the Liguilla.

- Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, MLS, more (U.S.)

Later in October, manager Ricardo Cadena and sporting director Ricardo Pelaez were fired by the club.

The Liga MX giants will begin their preseason on Nov. 14, ahead of the start of the 2023 Clausura tournament in January.

Paunovic began his coaching career with the youth teams of Serbia and won the U20 World Cup in 2015 with the men's program. In November of 2015, he was hired by the Chicago Fire, eventually helping them to the playoffs in 2017 and the club's third-best regular season record.

After the MLS club fired him in 2019, Paunovic was selected as manager of Reading in August of 2020. After failing to gain promotion to the Premier League and having a difficult run during the 2021-22 season, the Championship side announced in February that his contract had "been terminated by mutual consent."