An insight into Brazilian football under Mano Menezes
”Goodbye, Mano. Come back, Scolari” has been the most favourite chants of the Brazilian fans in practically all matches for quite sometime now, with a few rare exceptions.
So, it made us curious to find out of what actually is the scenario in Brazilian football.
Is the buzz surrounding Mano Menezes justified? Or is it a case of “when we win, the lads played well, when we lose, the coach made us fail”?
To get a clearer picture, we need to reflect on the situation under which Menezes was appointed as the head coach of the Brazilian team. After their disappointing showing in the 2010 World Cup and the exit of Dunga, Mano Menezes was chosen for a job with immense media and fan pressure.
Menezes, who until now had only managed clubs, made a giant leap to the hot seat.
The big moment for Menezes came way back in 2005 when he was given charge of the the then second division side Gremio. Gremio were not only promoted to the first division the next season, but they also became the Serie B champions.
He won many more accolades with Gremio before leaving them, to manage Corinthians. With Corinthians he was again given the same role of promoting the team from second division to the first division and believe it or not, he again won the Serie B championship with Corinthians.
This made Menezes a sensation and ultimately the job of coaching the national side came along.
People all over Brazil were hugely excited at the news of Menezes being appointed the coach. One of the main changes that Menezes brought to the Brazil team was the introduction of young players like Luiz, Andre and Tardelli.
He only retained four players in his squad who were part of the World Cup and then made his squad even stronger by selecting players like Pato, Neymar and Vieira, whom Dunga had excluded, for which he went on to be heavily criticised.
Menezes started well by winning all of his first four matches in charge. His acceptance thus became more formidable with the crowd and the Brazilian Football Confederation were convinced that they had made the right choice.
However, then the tide turned as Brazil went on to lose against Argentina and France in consecutive matches.
In the 2011 Copa America, Brazil gave one of their worst performances in history, winning just one of the four matches they played and ultimately going out of the tournament in the quarter final stage, losing to Paraguay in penalty shootout.
In the shootout, the Brazilians missed all four shots on goal.
The honeymoon period for Menezes was over and it was the first time that the fans in Brazil voiced their discontent for the coach. Since then, the road has not been smooth for Menezes with Brazil relying heavily on a young side but failing to make a mark.
Football is a religion in Brazil and any loss in a final is seen as a disgraceful event for the nation. Menezes found himself at the receiving end of the same emotion of the fans after Brazil lost the Olympic final to Mexico in August, 2012 despite an impressive overall performance from the team.
Neymar, Hulk, Pato and Rafael were the standout players of the team which had to settle for silver. The public was not happy, with Brazilian legend Romario calling for removal of Menezes.
After that Brazil has given lacklustre performances against South Africa and Argentina, winning both the games by only a thin margin. Fans voraciously advocated for the removal of Menezes and would wait outside the training sessions to make their voices heard.
The only exception was the match against China Republic which Brazil won 8-0.
Meanwhile, Luiz Felipe Scolari, the Brazil World Cup winning coach of 2002, was sacked by his club Palmeiras and he expressed his desire to guide the team in the World Cup of 2014. This move triggered the inevitable with the fans wanting their hero back at the helm of the team. The Brazilian media also went heavily against Menezes.
So where does Menezes stand now? Many believe he has played a masterstroke when he recalled Kaka to the national squad against Iraq, realising the importance of an experienced mid-fielder. He then showed the guts to playing two attacking mid-fileders, Kaka and Oscar, at the same time.
Both of them went on to score, with Brazil thrashing Iraq 6-0. Menezes would love to maintain his team’s form against Japan on Tuesday.
With the World Cup still one and half years away, it will now be interesting to see whether Menezes shapes up his team or is replaced by someone else in that job.
It is also believed that Kaka has been appointed as Brazil’s captain for the Confederations Cup next year.
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