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The year of Ricardo "El Tuca" Ferretti in Mexico

When it comes to Tigres coach Ricardo "Tuca" Ferretti, it is easy to get carried away with the hilarity that ensues when you do a brief internet search.

The highlight still has to be the leaked video from summer 2014 of Ferretti absolutely roasting his Tigres squad after they performed a sloppy shooting drill, which culminated in the enraged then 60-year-old Brazilian-Mexican doing it himself and thrashing the ball into the net. Then there was the one from last season when Ferretti was sent off against Leones Negros inside the Estadio Jalisco and hid behind the benches to continue watching the game. Again it was caught on camera and produced numerous funny memes.

This season has also had its smattering of joviality from Ferretti. From organizing the Argentine press into two groups ahead of the Copa Libertadores final so he wouldn't be crowded, to claiming the Mexican national team -- in the brief stint he was in charge -- wasn't "obligated" to win because "(you are not) obligated to put on shoes," there haven't been many dull moments.

There is a seemingly endless list of reasons why Ferretti is the subject of the best Twitter parody account in Mexican soccer, which plays on his Portuguese-accented Spanish, peppered with lewd Mexican slang.

But sometimes with Ferretti, the persona almost overshadows the work he has done on the field and 2015 will arguably be his best in the 24 consecutive years coaching in Mexico, if he can guide Tigres past Toluca in the Apertura semifinal and then win the title.

Former right-winger Ferretti has already led his team to August's Copa Libertadores final -- a feat only two other Mexican clubs have achieved -- and that despite his past antagonism towards the tournament and his reputation as a tecnico casero, or a coach who prefers the domestic league to international competition.

From there, Ferretti took over the Mexican national team on an interim basis on Aug. 24, at a time when it was still reeling from Miguel Herrera's firing. He instantly looked like a natural in the post. There wasn't one moment when Ferretti looked overawed or not in control over the four games he was in charge. The highlights were the 2-2 tie against Argentina in September, in which Ferretti's side stormed to a 2-0 lead, and then the victory in the CONCACAF Cup over the United States in October.

Ferretti showed tactical shrewdness and gumption in that match against the Stars and Stripes, lining up with Raul Jimenez, Oribe Peralta and Javier Hernandez upfront and playing Rafa Marquez in a holding midfield role. It caught the U.S. off-guard and El Tri largely controlled the game, despite the 2-2 scoreline after 90 minutes.

The players seemed to love Ferretti, despite his reputation for sternness and having a fierce temper. In a short time, Ferretti earned the national team players' trust, as evidenced by the joke they played on him after the U.S. match. This past year a trend on social networks in Mexico saw students in schools ask the teacher whether the correct conjugation of the command "die" is "mueranse o mueransen." When the teacher -- in this case Ferretti -- responded to goalkeeper Moises Munoz's question with the reply, "Mueranse," the players all fell on the floor and pretended to be dead.

But it is over at Tigres where Ferretti has embarked on a rare journey of team-building, obviously helped by having five-and-a-half years (or 67 months) at the helm. In contrast, Jose Cardozo -- coach of Tigres' semifinal rival Toluca -- is the second-longest tenured coach at present in Liga MX; the Paraguayan has been in charge of Toluca for 30 months, or less than half that of Ferretti.

Rio de Janeiro native Ferretti has implemented a playing style that has been drilled into his players. Tigres pass and move, keep the ball and are patient. They have almost always been the team with most average possession in the Liga MX regular season (this Apertura it has been particularly pronounced) under Ferretti and the phrase "Tuca-taka" has even been coined to describe Tigres' style.

In a league in which coaches tend to have very little time to embed a marked identity, Ferretti's Tigres stand out because they do. The club's hierarchy may have suffered in the PR sense from the Alan Pulido saga, but they also pump money into established big-name players to play in front of the 40,000-plus that show up to cheer Tigres at every home game. The obvious example is the in-form France international Andre-Pierre Gignac, but the likes of Nahuel Guzman, Egidio Arevalo, Guido Pizarro, Javier Aquino and Jurgen Damm have all given Ferretti the raw material to work with.

Tigres' defense is the best in the league and the organization and discipline Ferretti has instilled shines through.

If there is a criticism of Ferretti's Tigres, it is that they play as if they are in third gear on cruise control, refusing to shift up and move into the fast lane. If they do take the lead, the tendency is to sit back and hold on, rather than stretch their advantage. Out of the team's last 10 games, Tigres have only won once by more than a single goal.

"We don't look to please people, but they should understand: a 1-0 score doesn't mean it was a poor game and a 5-4 doesn't mean it was excellent," said Ferretti this week, summing up his philosophy.

Still, Ferretti has managed the second-most games of any coach ever in Mexico's first division and is almost certain to overtake first-placed Ignacio Trelles at some point in the next few years.

A crown jewel of Mexican football, Ferretti is four Apertura Liguilla games away from ending an already successful 2015 with perhaps the definitive moment in all his years as a coach.