For the first time in his illustrious 32-year coaching career, Ricardo Ferretti was fired.
Although his Cruz Azul team was off to a horrid start – 0-0-3 in Liga MX play and 0-2-1 in the Leagues Cup – the circumstances of his dismissal better reflect the dysfunction in the Cementeros front office than in the Xs and Os being drawn up by “Tuca.”
Ferretti had taken the Cruz Azul job in February, ending his first sabbatical from Liga MX sidelines since taking over at UNAM in September 1991 (he had declined a contract extension from FC Juárez after the Clausura 2022 season ended in May 2022).
The legendary manager revived “La Máquina Azul,” helping the stumbling club climb out of the basement and into a wildcard spot, finishing the season in 8th place. The limitations of the roster were evident in the playoffs, however, and the Cementeros were blanked at home by Atlas on Wildcard Weekend.
Bungling front office infuriates Ferretti
Heading into the Apertura 2023, “Tuca” present management with a wish list of players, identifying which positions required immediate upgrades.
Unfortunately, the Cruz Azul front office has been a calamity since the club won the Liga MX title in 2021. With the trophy in hand, team president Víctor Velázquez suddenly believed himself a savant and he started listening to sycophantic voices instead of his personnel men.
Infighting in the front office further roiled the decision-making process and star players fled for the exits while Velázquez and Co. signed players willy-nilly with little to no regard to functionality.
General manager Jaime Ordiales left for the national team organization in 2022 but not before doing considerable damage to the Cruz Azul locker room with ill-advised mega-contracts and ludicrous trades.
Journalist Javier Alarcón went so far as to accuse Ordiales of making deals to benefit América to curry favor with the chieftains at Team Mexico.
In came Oscar Pérez but it quickly became apparent that the former Cementeros goalie was the general manager in name only, and Velázquez was making the personnel decisions.
So when “La Máquina” started presenting its new acquisitions, Ferretti was flabbergasted. None of his suggestions were addressed and the newcomers were relative unknowns with modest résumés.
It also didn’t help that four regular starters were off on national team duty (at the Gold Cup with the senior team, and at the PanAm Games with the U-23 squad).
Ferretti went public with his disappointment, making it clear that preferred targets (especially Sporting KC striker Alan Pulido) were either being ignored or could not be swayed by weak negotiations.
‘Tuca’ offers to resign
After being unceremoniously knocked out of the Leagues Cup, coach Ferretti told Pérez that he would submit his resignation. Pérez spoke to Velázquez who quickly conveyed to the manager that the club wanted him to stay on.
A few days later, Ferretti was approached during a team practice and told that he was no longer the coach. Upon being advised that his resignation would now be accepted, “Tuca” balked at the shabby treatment.
Ferretti was furious, especially since neither Velázquez nor Ordiales (back in the Cruz Azul front office as “consultant” although he is essentially acting as general manager). “Tuca” has since intimated that he would sue to have his full salary paid (his contract ends in December, so it’s not as if the Cementeros would be shelling out big bucks).
No doubt, the shenanigans have upset the locker room since most players were excited to play for the legendary manager who holds the record for most Liga MX titles with seven (tied with Ignacio Trelles).
In addition, the Cementeros will resent the apparent lack of ambition because the club announced that they will rely on an interim manager for the remainder of the season – with 14 games still to go!
Ferretti lands on his feet
While the maelstrom permeates La Noria, “Tuca” appears to have emerged from the turmoil with a promising future.
Reports emerged heading into the weekend that new El Tri coach Jaime Lozano has extended an offer to his former boss (Jimmy played for “Tuca” for a season while with Tigres) to join the Team Mexico staff.
On Sunday afternoon, word trickled out that Ferretti had accepted the offer. He’ll join a staff that features Ryota Mishimura and Aníbal González, both of whom worked with Lozano at his previous coaching stops including the U-23 team that won bronze at the Tokyo Olympics.