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Right move by “Tuca” to not play Leo?

Fernández continued to ride the bench as Tigres struggled to find goals against a beatable Pachuca squad

Tigres UANL v Atlas - Torneo Clausura 2020 Liga MX Photo by Azael Rodriguez/Getty Images

In what appeared to be yet another “in the bag” game for Tigres, having had multiple opportunities in both halves, and with the lead in the dying minutes of the match, they instead extended their long history of heartbreaks to the hands of Pachuca, dating back to the beginning of the century. Having taken the lead in the 53rd minute on a strike by Dueñas which was helped in thanks to a minimal deflection by Erick Sánchez was not enough for the 23 ball possession dominators, despite having as clear opportunities to put the game away as they come.

Not only was their inability to extend the lead game-costing, but head coach Ferretti seemed content with his offensive players’ performances and decided adjustments were not necessary, even when strikers Edu Vargas and Javier Aquino continued to show their ineffectiveness with the ball. While the latter was unable to get past Pachuca’s right-back defender, the former let a clear goal opportunity go by in the 21st minute, as he attempted to control a ball just outside the six-yard box which should have been struck immediately and put away to give Tigres the lead.

On the other side of the pitch, a dangerous Quiñones found his way into Pachuca’s penalty box a series of times with the ball in his control, resulting in a very close strike in the first half, or in the very least a menacing cross. Whatever the case, he continues to prove why he is a worthy starter. And we need not even mention André-Pierre Gignac, who almost scored on an amazing bicycle kick, had it not been for the left post.

So, why do Vargas and Aquino continue to get the nod from Ferretti despite their low level of play and inability to score? More specifically, why do they continue to have preference over last season’s revelation Leo Fernández? How can it be that “Tuca” got the best young attacking midfielder/forward in Mexican Football and chooses to only play him 11 out of 180 minutes so far? Even though chances were created, the goals to put the game away weren’t converted. And that’s what offensive players are payed to do. If one can’t do it, let another one have a chance.

When it comes to excuses, for “Tuca” there are none. The team wasted precious opportunity after precious opportunity to extend the lead on Saturday. Neither Vargas or Aquino were producing at their expected level, or at a level to at least be on par with Gignac and Quiñones. Allowed substitutions changed from three to five, meaning Ferretti now has two extra subs per game. One certainly understands “Tuca” respecting the team hierarchy with Fernández being the newcomer and all, but why not give the youngster at least 20 to 30 minutes in place of either of those two to give the offense a refreshing face? To see what he can do with the ball? After all, he is a playmaker. He proved it with his two assists to Gignac in the Copa por México preseason tournament.

It’s not the first time Ferretti has displayed this coaching style. He treated Lucas Zelarayan the exact same way, and never gave him a fair opportunity to gain a spot in the starting XI. It took him years before he finally gave Alan Pulido an opportunity. While it is true that Ferretti is the only one who sees the day-to-day activities with his players, and only he knows who is at the optimal level to help his team, he has been proven wrong in the past. Even a proven star like Joffre Guerrón was kept out of the starting lineup in the second leg of the Libertadores final in 2015 vs. River Plate. He was finally subbed on in the second half, but by then it was too late.

What is “Tuca” waiting for? You’re looking at an offense with a couple players who haven’t delivered for a while dating back to last season, and who can’t deliver a winnable game such as Pachuca was, apart from the fact you just reeled in last season’s breakout star in Leo Fernández, who has qualities to become the next Liga MX star. Despite anything Ferretti might have seen from Fernández in practice that could create any sort of doubt, there is no excuse for him not getting a chance last Saturday. Is it plausible Fernández ultimately becomes another one of Ferretti’s spoiled careers? What will need to happen for Fernández to finally see some playing time? We’ll see whether “Tuca” finally comes to his senses or continues to see his team let points slip without giving Fernández a shot to provide an offensive spark in this.