Farewell Tuca! Ferretti's interim spell with Mexico comes to an end, and not a minute too soon

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Amilcar Orfali
The Tigres manager belongs with his club, not with El Tri where he lost five out of six matches during his interim stint

It's over. Ricardo "Tuca" Ferretti has coached his final match as Mexico interim manager, falling to Argentina 2-0 to put an end to a tenure that has not lived up to the high hopes El Tri fans had when it started.

The numbers are harsh. Of six matches Ferretti oversaw, Mexico lost five. El Tri were outscored 12-4, failing to score at all in four of the contests.

They don't tell the whole story, though.

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Even after a horrendous start to Tuesday's game, which saw Mauro Icardi score his debut Argentina goal just a minute and 10 seconds after the ball started to roll, Mexico grew into the game and improved after four halftime changes. However, Henry Martin's shouts for a penalty went unheeded, Jesus Gallardo couldn't beat goalkeeper Guillermo Rulli and Mexico's third-choice back line couldn't deny Paulo Dybala his own debut international goal on the counterattack.

"I was looking to do my job, take care of what I’m in charge of. Naturally, with this game it’s come to an end," Ferretti said after Tuesday's match, looking back on his time as interim manager. "The results obtained weren’t at all to my liking, but I think we’ve got to do an analysis of other situations so the next manager in my situation can take advantage of these six games that were played.

"There are a number of important players who played at the last World Cup. We have to see who really will be able to get to 2022, and naturally there's a group of young players who must keep progressing to really be what we hope they can be for the next World Cup."

Mexico wasn't that bad during Ferretti's tenure, but it was bad. Ferretti's task wasn't easy. He said when he arrived that he wanted to bring in young players, giving them hands-on experience at the international level with an eye fixed on what Mexico needs to do in four years at the next World Cup, not in an October friendly against Chile or a November friendly against Argentina.

Even so, Ferretti may not have achieved that goal.

Aside from Santos Laguna left back Gerardo Arteaga and Pachuca star Victor Guzman, which young players really got chances under Ferretti they won't get under the new boss? It's not like those players were off the national team radar. But rather than take a gamble on more truly young players, Alexis Vega of Toluca stayed home while Chivas' Alan Pulido was on the field once again. The 31-year-old Julio Cesar Dominguez came in instead of any number of younger defenders. Rather than developing Gibran Lajud in goal, 37-year-old Jesus Corona saw minutes Tuesday.

"These games are the ones that help us the most," the 23-year-old Guzman said after Tuesday's defeat. "At the end of the day, these types of games, against these types of players help us. You give them one and they score. That's why they play where they play. We have to get better in this so we can get to our top level."

Maximiliano Meza Erick Gutiérrez Argentina Mexico 20112018

What purpose did it serve to not give those chances to more young players? Mexico still lost those games, and the young players still don't have the taste of facing international opponents with the quality Argentina, Chile or even Costa Rica boast.

What he did was keep a seat warm when Mexico wasn't ready to hand the keys over to someone - or at least when the people they wanted weren't ready to take the key. The 64-year-old has served his adopted nation when it needed him.

"(I provided) time for the federation to be able to find the next manager of our national team," he said. "I think it would’ve been premature to have selected someone right away and I think my prescence gave them the time needed to be able to pick this person who will be the person to take the Mexico national team to the next World Cup."

Ferretti isn't a bad guy and he's not a bad manager. But he's a club manager, and he has a situation that suits him at Tigres. Even as he flirted with the gig in September, you got the impression he knows how good he has it with the northern club. It's a team that sticks by him and gives him plenty of resources to bring in new players. Even in down campaigns, there's little of the chatter about job security that all his counterparts in Mexico have to endure when they're in a rough spell.

It is with Tigres that he belongs. The national team is a job for another man, and that man is coming.

Gerardo "Tata" Martino, the odds-on favorite to take the job, can get something out of this group and also bring in more of the players from the previous generation to help ease the growing pains of generational transition. There is plenty of work to do, and it's time for the one who will carry out the full project to begin.

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