What Tuca Ferretti learned from Mexico’s September friendlies

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Ricardo “Tuca” Ferretti is an experienced manager, coaching various club teams without much of a break since taking over the Pumas team he played for in 1991. Aside from winning one match with Mexico in 1993, though, Mexico’s September friendlies against Trinidad and Tobago and Argentina were the interim Mexico manager’s first taste of the international game. That means the Tigres boss had plenty to learn and take away from the last week’s pair of draws.

The biggest thing for Tuca to get used to was the limited opportunities he had to see his players during an international break. Given the close of the Europe’s summer transfer windows, this break always was going to be difficult, with so many Mexican internationals swapping teams in Europe. That meant Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, having moved to Bayer Leverkusen from Manchester United, arrived late and missed out on the first friendly, while former Twente midfielder Jesus “Tecatito” Corona missed the whole window, staying with his new club, Porto, and working out visa issues.

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“We’re going to look to have a definitive list that arrives on time to be able to work,” Ferretti said about next month’s squad after the Argentina match, expressing how little time he had to work with a full complement of players.

Perhaps that’s why, after drawing 3-3 with Trinidad and Tobago last week, Ferretti put another lesson into practice – that sometimes it’s best to stick with what a team knows. He usually chooses a disciplined team that stays back in two lines of four, with attacking urgency coming from his wide players in the midfield. Instead of sticking with that formation in the second match, however, Tuca reverted back to the 5-3-2 formation Mexico had used so often during the Miguel Herrera era.

Argentina manager Tata Martino said El Tri’s tactics didn’t come as a surprise, calling the decision to stick with what the players know a “logical” one on Ferretti’s part.

A lineup featuring Mexico’s European-based stars also seemed logical after Ferretti learned another lesson that Herrera had learned only recently. Even though Liga MX has some of the region’s most talented players, it doesn’t have the depth of Mexican talent it needs to overcome injuries or simply put out a second side.

Mexico’s struggles in June’s Copa America with an alternate team that couldn’t beat Bolivia or Ecuador displayed the shortcomings of Mexico’s second group. Ferretti, in part because of the absences, used inexperienced players like center back Oswaldo Alanis and forward Henry Martin. Alanis was victimized by the Caribbean side, while Martin was inefficient, at best, up top.

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