Gerardo Martino, Carlos Queiroz remain favourites in Mexico's drawn-out search for a new manager
Mexico's comeback victory over Costa Rica last Thursday was highly entertaining and Tuesday's friendly in Queretaro against Chile promises to be equally enthralling.
The games give a glimpse into what Mexico's future could look like, but the issue overshadowing El Tri at present isn't the results or even the performances in these October games -- it is which head coach will be in charge of setting the direction of the Mexico national team heading towards Qatar 2022.
It's been almost three months since Juan Carlos Osorio confirmed he wouldn't be continuing in the job -- although it was an open secret even before the World Cup that the Colombian wasn't comfortable in the position -- and there's no sign of an imminent appointment.
Ricardo "Tuca" Ferretti's interim period in charge started in September with fervent speculation about whether the Tigres manager could be persuaded to take the job on a full-time basis.
Ferretti certainly kept the door open to the possibility, but Tigres eventually closed it on Sept. 25, when the Mexican Football Federation (FMF) confirmed in a statement that the Liga MX club hadn't given permission for Ferretti -- who made it clear he wouldn't force the issue -- to break his contractual obligations.
Another potential candidate, Matias Almeyda, was ruled out when he took over at San Jose Earthquakes, although he said the FMF never got in contact.
So where is the process at?
It's difficult to filter through the sometimes contradictory statements from the hermetic FMF, as well as the often varied reports in the media.
With Ferretti set to be in charge for the double header of friendlies against Argentina in November, the message is that there is no rush.
The net has been cast wide, with 24 potential coaches having been interviewed, according to FMF president Yon de Luisa. Reports have suggested the Mexican federation enquired about the likes of Andre Villas-Boas, Marcelo Bielsa and even Mauricio Pochettino with no success.
Cantu is leading the search for the new manager and, although the FMF has been mainly quiet since the World Cup, he has outlined what he is looking for.
"A mature man with experience in clubs or national teams, I think both are valid," Cantu told reporters in September. "Knowing [World Cup] qualification helps, [and] he should like to attack and also show balance [in his teams.]"
Some of the old guard still believe that a Mexican should be chosen. That idea is being championed by former El Tri coach and Mexico legend Hugo Sanchez, who is adamant he should be the No. 1 candidate.
"Here in Mexico it is a shame that there isn't a coach as yet," Sanchez told ESPN last week. "The ideal [person] who should, logically, be the head coach of the Mexican national team is Mr. Hugo Sanchez, but malinchismo [preference for foreign over Mexican] is very strong in this country."
Sanchez hasn't coached since 2012, when he left Pachuca, and the argument that a domestic coach is best has been losing ground, with even Ferretti hinting that the pool of potential Mexican coaches isn't as deep as it once was.
Miguel Herrera would be the top Mexican contender -- and according to ESPN's Rene Tovar hasn't been totally discounted -- but it appears that a foreign coach will be hired.
"If they've interviewed 24 coaches, it says that they don't have an adequate profile," Vucetich complained to FOX last week. "It speaks to an uncertainty within the federation. That's a serious problem."
But there's surely a reason for the wait and that is likely Gerardo "Tata" Martino. The Atlanta coach's name has sounded most loudly in relation to a position Cantu described as the "electric chair." According to ESPN's Leon Lecanda and Tovar, Martino is the FMF's top target, although there has been no official statement.
The issue is that Martino -- who recently said he doesn't have an agent -- still has to decide his future with Atlanta United, while negotiating the upcoming MLS playoffs.
It's easy to see what attraction of Martino to the FMF.
Tata did a superb job with Paraguay; his time with Argentina has gained value off the back of that national team's recent failures; he's been involved in pressure jobs such as Barcelona; his teams play a balanced brand of attacking football and has shown in Atlanta his ability to achieve in a different scenario in the CONCACAF region.
But for all those above reasons it's also likely that should Martino leave Atlanta there would be other interested parties, including Colombia, Argentina -- two teams more likely to win a World Cup in 2022 than Mexico -- and the United States. And then there is Europe, where Martino surely has some desire to make his mark after his one season with Barcelona.
Yet with ESPN's Hernan Pereyra reporting last month that Martino would be the next Mexico coach and TV Azteca's David Medrano hinting at the same on a TV program on Monday, there are signs that Mexico has a chance of achieving a major coup and capturing the Argentine.
Next in line appears to be Carlos Queiroz, who has regularly been linked with the position.
Queiroz doesn't have a history of consistently fielding attacking teams, but does have a wealth of experience around the world. The fact the Portuguese manager has only extended his contract with Iran until after January's AFC Asian Cup hints that the 65-year-old would be open to a new challenge. His situation buys the FMF time.
Jorge Sampaoli, Jose Pekerman and Quique Sanchez Flores -- out of work and in some ways natural candidates -- don't appear to be prominently on the radar, according to one source close to the federation with knowledge of the situation.
What can't be helping attract the candidates with the caliber of Martino and Queiroz are the negative stories surrounding the national team. Last week, there were multiple reports that certain Europe-based players were being punished for demanding better treatment when it comes to commercial responsibilities with the national team.
"Bye, divas; welcome, Victor Guzman," read the headline on an opinion piece in ESPN Mexico. In Record, a caricature with 22-year-old goalkeeper Raul Gudino poking out of the Mexico team bus had the caption: "There's only space for those that work."
The insinuation filtering from the media to Mexico fans is clear: The young players will fight until the end for the national team, while the Europe-based superstars cause problems.
The suggestions were emphatically denied by Ferretti and Cantu, but the goal here isn't to prove or disprove, simply to point out that any potential coach looking from the outside in would be perplexed to see not much has changed from Osorio's time in charge, when attacks were personal and often unreasonable in their ferocity.
With that baggage floating around, the wait goes on in El Tri's search for a new coach.