By Dan Price
Tuca Ferretti becomes the fifth manager of the Mexican national team in less than two years on Friday, as he leads El Tri into a friendly against Trinidad and Tobago.
At the moment he is scheduled to take charge for four games – the aforementioned tie against Trinidad, another friendly against Argentina, the all-important CONCACAF Confederations Cup Playoff game against the United States, and a final friendly against Panama.
It seems as though this will be in only contribution, and that it’s unlikely he will take the job full-time after an initial trial run (as his predecessor Miguel Herrera did). An announcement has not been officially made, but Tuca used his presentation press conference to rule out the possibility of doing a full World Cup cycle.
If there was any doubt about the freedom Tuca had been given to make sure Mexico won the clash against the United States, it was quickly dispelled after his squad announcement last week.
Giovani dos Santos, his brother Jonathan dos Santos, and former number one Guillermo Ochoa were all omitted. Gio dos Santos, who recently signed for LA Galaxy, was perhaps was the most controversial news. His switch the MLS was widely seen as a ploy by the league to make their product more appealing to more Mexicans in the country, and his snub was a clear statement of power from his new boss.
Ochoa is more understandable – he has endured a torrid twelve months since moving to Malaga and has not been able to establish himself in the first team. Johnathan dos Santos, meanwhile, has not yet played for Villarreal this season.
Unsurprisingly, he has looked to his club side Tigres for some talent. Jorge Torres Nilo, Jesus Duenas and Javier Aquino all made the cut, and it would be a surprise if all three didn’t start.
Fans who aren’t sure what to expect need to look no further than the way Tigres play. Tuca is often criticised for a defensive brand of football, but with a Liga MX title, a Liga MX runners-up spot, two seasons as the superlider, a Copa MX title, and a Copa Libertadores runners up spot in the last four years, it impossible to argue that it’s not effective.
His El Tri side won’t set off fireworks. He has been brought in to be a safe pair of hands – a manager that puts winning ahead of style and efficiency ahead of beauty. They will almost certainly play 4-4-2, and they will almost certainly line up with two defensive midfielders in the middle of the pitch.
Mexico need to make sure they win against the US for a whole host of reasons, Tuca was the FMF’s best, and arguably only, choice.
Kickoff against Trinidad and Tobago is on Friday at 10pm EDT.