Sunday's second leg of the 2016 Apertura final will be very special for Tigres' manager Ricardo "Tuca" Ferretti. The game against Club America will not only represent an opportunity to gain another league title, it will also be the 1,000th Liga MX match for Ferretti as a boss. Whether the Brazilian wins the championship or not, his current run is remarkable in a league that typically churns through various coaches every year.
The former midfielder has maintained a managerial role in Mexico's top flight since 1991, with several titles and noteworthy seasons for five Liga MX clubs under his belt. Now, at 62 years old, Ferretti looks to be on the cusp of adding another piece of hardware on his managerial landmark, which happens to land on Christmas Day.
Going through Tuca's career is no easy task, but here are five themes that have characterized his legacy.
Longevity in Mexico
It's difficult for many managers to hold their positions in consecutive seasons. A quick look at those currently in charge shows that more than half have had their Liga MX jobs for less than a year, but Ferretti stands out among the rest through a tenure with Tigres that stretches all the way back to 2010. Pachuca's Diego Alonso, the next longest-serving coach in the league, has only been in charge of Los Tuzos since 2014.
Nobody else in the league comes close to the Brazilian boss' tally of matches in charge and following Sunday's second leg, Ferretti will be just 83 games behind Ignacio Trelles' record of 1,083 Liga MX matches as a manager.
Tuca-ball style of play
It may not be the most thrilling or engaging type of futbol, but Ferretti has been able to shine with a practical and organized style of play. You'll seldom see the manager take risks or let his players move from their respective positions in a 4-4-2 or 4-2-3-1 formation. Instead, Tuca favors heavy possession of the ball with little need to be direct or aggressive in attack. Ideally for him, his sides would cautiously play their way through constant 1-0 wins without much excitement.
In a league that moves far too quickly in a short tournament format, Ferretti typically slips past opposition teams with low-scoring draws or wins. Despite overseeing matches that might feel boring for most observers, the manager tends to find a way into the playoffs with his efficient and sensible approach.
There are, of course, exceptions for Ferretti, as seen in his atypical 4-3-3 setup with Mexico last year.
Eye-raising moments on the pitch
Despite his tactical approach, "cautious" or "boring" don't exactly come to mind when it comes to the Brazilian's personal traits.
The manager has stolen headlines in the past for countless comments that have caught the attention in Mexico. Recalling all of his controversial quotes is an article of its own, but certain ones like his "partido moleros" criticism of the FMF and his recent outburst toward a reporter are perhaps his most infamous.
Back in 2015, Ferretti was once again the center of attention after a video of a training session from 2014 went viral. In the clip, the manager criticizes his players, takes part in the drill himself, hits a perfect, well-timed cross and then trudges off the training ground.
Another moment worth mentioning is his attempt to hide from referees after being sent off in a game last year. With the TV cameras keeping a close eye on the coach, Ferretti can be seen watching the game behind his team's bench.
Despite his antics, Tuca isn't always a volatile character seeking to push the boundaries every weekend. In most cases, the manager is a mild-mannered leader on the sidelines who is at times stoic with the media. That said, it's much easier for many to remember his occasional tirades during matches.
Recent success with Tigres
No other Liga MX team has benefitted more from Ferretti's presence in the league than Tigres. Since 2011, Los Auriazules have looked like one of Mexico's best with one Copa MX title and two Liga MX league titles. Tuca's roster was also able to finish as a finalist in the 2015 Copa Libertadores and the 2015-16 CONCACAF Champions League.
Having a highly talented core of players is an obvious reason why, but Ferretti's time management with his squad is perhaps the biggest reason why Tigres have done so well. Unlike some Mexican sides, Los Auriazules have a clear identity and character that Tuca has been able to gradually mold.
Tigres have thrived with Tuca by their side and on Sunday, they will have another opportunity for a league championship against Mexico's most successful club.
The lure of El Tri
After years of chastising and denouncing Mexico's national team, Ferretti took charge as an interim coach for a total of four matches in 2015. In that short run, the manager was not only undefeated with two wins and two draws, but also walked away with an impressive 3-2 victory against the U.S. in the CONCACAF Cup.
El Tri fans and the media praised Ferretti during his short time with the team. The manager himself, who was constantly smiling during news conferences, also appeared to enjoy most of his time with Mexico.
Despite his previous antagonism toward El Tri, Tuca was a natural fit as Mexico's head coach. There seems to be no indication that he will once again take charge of the national side but if the job opens up again in the next few years, he will undoubtedly be one of the stronger candidates.