The most successful manager in the modern history of the Mexican league will again be taking over Mexico's national team, with Ricardo "Tuca" Ferretti swooping in for the upcoming friendlies against Uruguay (Sept. 7 in Houston) and the United States (Sept. 11 in Nashville, Tennessee).
Tigres coach Ferretti seemed keen to take the interim job, like he did in 2015, offering up his services for El Tri with the same caveat as last time: He's keeping the seat warm for when a full-time appointment comes in.
The statement from the Mexican federation (FMF) was somewhat vague, pointing to 64-year-old Ferretti being in charge for the "upcoming FIFA international dates." Reports in Mexico hinted that aside from the September games, the Brazil-born coach could also be in place for the October friendlies in Mexico -- with Tigres' Estadio Universitario a possible venue -- and even November's friendlies, which are likely to be in Europe. But Ferretti hopes that a long-term appointment will be in place sooner rather than later to free him up to concentrate on the 2018 Apertura playoffs with his beloved Tigres.
"I'll fulfill the dates I have to while they search for the right person, but I'm very confident that by the third [November] FIFA date they'll have one," Ferretti said in a news conference Monday in Monterrey, Mexico.
The FMF knows exactly what it gets with Ferretti. The veteran, who said he'd be bringing in a few youngsters for the September games, will be well respected by the players, knows the next generation of Liga MX El Tri hopefuls and is about a solid an appointment as you could want on a temporary basis for El Tri.
The hire also would appear to discount domestic candidates for the position, including former Chivas coach Matias Almeyda. Why bother to install an interim coach only to go back and hire a manager who has declared himself interested, still lives in Mexico and is available? If you were in Almeyda's shoes, you might read between the lines and assume that it's now a good time to look elsewhere for a job.
Furthermore, this interim appointment is evidence that the FMF is probing external options. Carlos Queiroz, Quique Sanchez Flores, Jorge Sampaoli and Hector Cuper have been mentioned but the likelihood is that the FMF is waiting for the fallout from whether Jose Pekerman stays on with Colombia or Queiroz carries on with Iran.
With the United States, Costa Rica, Paraguay, Mexico, Argentina and possibly Uruguay and Colombia all looking for a new coach, there has naturally been an overlap as agents feed out stories and send over resumes. Perhaps, just perhaps, the FMF would also like to persuade Ferretti through these games that they have their house for a long-term process toward Qatar 2022 and that he should be the one to succeed Juan Carlos Osorio.
It seems as though Ferretti has some backing within the media and there's little doubt he would be the easy appointment, if he was available on a full-time basis, given his standing in the Mexican game. But back in mid-July, Ferretti said he didn't want the job on a permanent basis, something he reiterated a couple of weeks later and then again on Monday.
"Do you know how many excellent coaches, much better than me, there are in the world? They have to pick a better one than me [and] they'll find one."
The fact that Ferretti's longtime assistant and once boss Miguel Mejia Baron will remain behind at Tigres this time around is perhaps a further indication that once again this is temporary.
Then there are his criticisms of "partidos moleros" -- loosely translated as "meaningless friendlies" -- the intense media microscope he knows exists with the national team and the fact he seems entirely happy leading a long-term project at Tigres, one that is producing a lot of success. Add to that Ferretti's playful suggestion that he has already talked to one of the potential candidates over the phone, and it is safe to say the odds seems to be against the Brazilian staying on.
The question from the FMF may well come, however, and it would be difficult for many coaches to turn down the opportunity to manage at a World Cup in the twilight of their careers. Ferretti, however, isn't any old coach and is unlikely to make a U-turn on what has been a consistent "thank you, but no" over many years. At least El Tri can count on a steady hand in charge for the time being.