Four sackings in 24 hours shows challenges Brazilian coaches face
A few months ago, Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp aimed some strong words at those running Brazilian football.
"The way the Brazilian clubs are doing things is definitely wrong," he said. "The coaches come in for one week, a month or two or three, with the hope that he can perform wonders. It's not possible! It's football, and in football you have to accept what you have to do. It's hard work, working together, bringing players together so that they can perform together. That needs time. If you don't give the players time you have nothing.
"So the way you do it doesn't work. The pressure you put on the coach is too big. It's not possible. You have to feel together with the team, you have to do these things together - that is not done in one week, in one month, or even in one year." Klopp's advice to the clubs when they go hunting for a coach - "be convinced about the guy you sign and give him time. That's the way it should be."
He spoke in April. Six months later is it clear that few were listening. In a period of under 24 hours, coach Cuca stepped down at Sao Paulo under pressure of results, while Rogerio Ceni, Ze Ricardo and Oswaldo de Oliveira were all sacked, respectively by Cruzeiro, Fortaleza and Fluminense. None of them were at these club when Klopp gave his thoughts to a Brazilian journalist. All of them are now looking for new jobs -- and plenty of other Brazilian coaches are also looking anxiously over their shoulders.
The quality of Brazilian coaches is clearly a cause for concern. They are out of the loop. Former Arsenal and Barcelona left back Sylvinho recently became the first Brazilian coach to take charge in the group phase of the Champions League - and he is already running into problems with Lyon. Back in Brazil, meanwhile, the immediate impact made by Portuguese coach Jorge Jesus at Flamengo has been striking. With a high defensive line and an attacking approach, his team are playing an enchanting brand of modern football which makes most of the competition look dull and leaden minded in comparison.
But it is not easy for Brazilian coaches to build a career. The calendar is over full. There are too many games and not enough time for training. As Klopp pointed out, the pressure for short term results is excessive. The context is difficult. There is a lack of direction from the top. When Cuca left Sao Paulo, for example, he confessed that his style of play had not proved a match for the characteristics of the players. This leaves an obvious question; how comes this was not discussed before he was appointed?
Moreover, Brazilian club coaches can only dream of the continuity enjoyed by the likes of Klopp. It is all but impossible to keep a team together for a year. The best players are likely to be sold. The contemporary South American game is a little like a doughnut; there are promising youngsters on the way up and veterans on the way down - but a hole in the middle where the world class quality in its prime should be.
Some of those veterans wield considerable power - in many cases much more than they deserve. They were never good enough to tip the balance at the highest level, but they can stand out in Brazil. They are on good contracts - and if it comes to an arm wrestle, it is easier for the club to get rid of the coach than the experienced player. Rogerio Ceni, for example, was sacked by Cruzeiro after an altercation involving veteran playmaker Tiago Neves. And Oswaldo de Oliveira got his marching orders at Fluminense after a public fall out with Paulo Henrique Ganso.
A teammate of Neymar at Santos, and tipped by many to be the better of the two, Ganso has had a hugely disappointing career. Injuries have not helped. But the truth is that his lack of dynamism was always likely to prevent him from becoming a top class player. Clarence Seedorf, in his time in Brazilian football, praised the quality of the left footed playmaker. But he pointed out that Ganso was unlikely to succeed in Europe, that his space would be squeezed in a compact midfield. So it proved. Sevilla got next to nothing for their investment in the player, with a succession of coaches coming to the conclusion that he was surplus to requirements.
But in Brazil Ganso is often declared a genius, even as Fluminense slipped into the relegation zone. Last Sunday's 3-0 defeat away to Goias turned into a rout, with the opponent able to charge through an absurdly open Fluminense midfield.
On Thursday the team were a home to Santos, and holding on to a 1-1 draw. It appears that Osvaldo de Oliveira called on Ganso to carry out a marking duty, and was not happy with the response. Ganso was substituted. As he left the field he shouted that the coach was "stupid." Oswaldo replied that Ganso was "a bum," and they would have come to blows without the intervention of members of the coaching staff.
The game finished 1-1 -- a good result for Fluminense considering they played part of the match with nine men and were up against the third placed team. But the next morning Oswaldo de Oliveira was sacked. He may have been wrong to get into a slanging match on the touchline. In this incident, though, it would seem that Ganso was more wrong -- and that Klopp was right.