Gerardo Martino is an excellent man-manager and would have made Inter Miami MLS Cup contenders had a Lionel Messi-inspired Herons been able to gatecrash this year's playoffs.
That is the view of Houston Dynamo midfielder Hector Herrera, who played under the former Barcelona boss when he coached Mexico's national team between 2019 and 2022.
Having guided Atlanta United to the MLS Cup in 2018, Martino became Miami boss in July as the David Beckham-owned franchise brought in former Barcelona trio Messi, Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba.
Those arrivals immediately led to an upturn for Miami, who won the Leagues Cup in August following a series of mesmerising displays from Messi, but they were unable to force their way into the playoffs.
Messi only made four regular-season starts for Miami this year as the Argentina great battled a niggling injury, and the Herons ultimately finished nine points adrift of the Eastern Conference's wild card spots.
Miami will certainly be among the favourites to enjoy a postseason run in 2024, and Herrera feels their rivals were slightly fortunate to see them fall short this campaign.
Asked what makes Martino special as a coach, Herrera told Stats Perform: "I think his personality and the work he does on every team he has.
Nuestro capitán y nuestro jugador más valioso del 2023: Leo Messi pic.twitter.com/dlddgAh6EO— Inter Miami CF (@InterMiamiCF) November 12, 2023
"That is what has made him win so many things and be so well-known in the world of football.
"Personally, he is a coach who has helped me a lot, I have a great relationship with him and I love the way he plays.
"He has shown it with every team he has had and until today at Inter Miami he gave another face to the team and got better results.
"We knew that if they entered the playoffs, they were going to be one of the favourite teams and were going to compete for the championship."
Herrera fell just short of reaching the MLS Cup Final after the Dynamo were defeated by Los Angeles FC, who will face Columbus Crew following their comeback victory over Supporters' Shield winners FC Cincinnati.