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Diego Cocca: “If a player performs, I don’t care about his age”

The coach was formally introduced yesterday in a presser.

Tigres UANL Unveils Diego Cocca As New Coach Photo by Alfredo Lopez/Jam Media/Getty Images

Diego Cocca is the chosen one to take the spot vacated by Miguel Herrera. Days after Gustavo Mendoza and other media pundits confirmed it would indeed be the Argentine coach who assumed the role, Cocca’s wife herself made it official on her instagram account a couple days ago. By the time the club welcomed their new coach through a social media post yesterday morning, it was news of old.

Cocca arrives at Tigres very highly regarded, as not only did he garner excellent numbers during his 2-year tenure at Atlas, but was also responsible for bringing them their first title since 1951. To further add to that, not only did he win one; he won two titles in a row. He became the first coach to repeat since León did so with Gustavo Matosas back in 2013-14.

But more than that, it was the level of consistency and good results he maintained througout his tenure. In his time with Atlas, he coached a total of 98 matches (all competitions) in just under 5 seasons (as he arrived a few games into the Apertura 2020 season), made the playoffs in 3 of them, and won 2 titles. His 36W, 25D, 37L record is nothing to write home about, but the fact he took a club wrapped up in such turmoil and turned it around the way he did is superb.

The funny thing about Cocca, however, is he really hasn’t done all that well in his overall club numbers. So, what about his other tenures in Liga MX? He became head coach for Tijuana at the start of the Clausura 2018. He couldn’t even finish his second full season, as he and front office mutually agreed to part ways with 3 games to go in the Apertura 2018. His record during that stint was 15W, 14D, 15L.

And if you go back a few more years, he was also head coach for Santos Laguna. This was his shortest period as Liga MX head coach. He came in to manage the final 10 matches for the Clausura 2011 season, and after the first 6 of the Apertura 2012, was out of a job. He coached a total of 22 games for Santos, going 8W, 2D, 12L.

He’s won about a third of his matches with every club he’s coached. He’s even lost more matches than he’s won. But then again, Tigres are the first big club he’s been put in charge of in Mexico. So in that sense, his record makes sense. That being said, it will have to be better with the UANL club.

So, what does Cocca bring to the table? Tactical order and defensive prowess. If one thing has characterized Cocca’s teams, it’s their stability. In the three seasons he made the playoffs with Atlas, they allowed an average of 0.78 goals per match in the regular season and were tied as the best defensive team in the two seasons they won the title, not to mention top 3 league table finishes for both as well. That’s rarely seen. Even in his first season with Xolos for instance, they allowed just 12 goals in the regular season.

This is obviously what most caught the eye of Tigres’ front office, as he just might be the closest thing to a modern ‘Tuca’ Ferretti, and we all know how Ferretti’s tenure went. And with most of Tuca’s squad still intact and producing at a very high level, why wouldn’t you go for something that’s worked with these players? After all, it is the style of play that gave you the most success the franchise has ever seen.

And so, Cocca arrives at by far the highest quality club he’s coached in Mexico (and arguably in his career), with a solid, talent-filled core of players, such as Nahuel Guzmán, Samir Caetano, Guido Pizarro, Rafael Carioca, and of course, André-Pierre Gignac. And they’re still looking to add talent. There are rumors he could be signing two or three of his most trusted players at Atlas, so look for this squad to get even better / tougher as he begins adjusting his pieces to suit his preferred style.

Tigres open the Clausura 2023 season in the TSM Corona on Sunday, January 8th when they visit northern rivals Santos Laguna in what is sure to be an electric start to the regular season. A couple months later, on March 7th, they open up their CONCACAF Champions League campaign when they host Orlando City SC in the first leg of their Round of 16 series. Cocca will be fully expected to win both trophies.