A closer look at Brazil’s managerial merry-go-round

Everybody would like it to work out for Fernando Diniz at São Paulo, but…

Good things come to wait is generally not a proverb practised by owners of Brazilian football clubs.

How much time is enough time? That is perhaps the key question facing owners of football teams. If it isn’t working out with a particular coach, and change is going to be needed, then there is no point in waiting. After all, one of the definitions of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting the same result. Equally though, a manager sometimes needs time turn things around, develop a style and implement a project, which occassionally means that a short run sacrefice is needed.

Brazilian clubs aren’t particularly good at doing that. Of course, sometimes there is no time to wait and change is needed right away. But it is not unusual for Brazilian teams to fire a coach and the results get worse. Look at Botafogo this year: they got rid of Eduardo Barroca, who guided the team to 27 points from 23 games; this wasn’t good enough for the heirarchy, but they have won six points in eight games after replacing him and now sit in the relegation zone.

Internacional fired Odair Hellman, who not only got the team promoted from the Serie B two years ago and guided them to 3rd place in the top flight last year. The team won 38 points in 24 games under him this year (1.6 points per game), but have won 11 in 8 games (1.4 points per game) since he left. The respectivel replacements of Hellman and Barroca were Zé Ricardo and Alberto Valentim, but those two have a habit of going from club to club, nothing really changes and they part ways – what’s the point.

There have been 19 managerial changes this since the Serie A began this year: 14 out of 20 clubs have done it and five clubs have changed their manager more than once. Quite a few changes, but probably fewer than usual. That’s not to say that there haven’t been some strange things going on: Rogério Ceni quit Fortaleza to take over at Cruzeiro, which lasted just seven games before a he fell out with the club’s hierarch, which resulted in a parting of ways. Fortaleza, fair play to them, welcomed him back with open arms (and were quite happy to give Zé Ricardo the boot).

Fernando Diniz is a strange one too and a polarising figure. He insists on his teams keeping the ball and controlling games through possession. But often this results in his teams taking unnecessary risks and also becoming predictable and one dimensional, ending in tears. A 1-0 loss at home to CSA sealed his fate for Fluminense (a match in which they had 35 shots), and the team’s form has improved since he left. You want it to work out for him, and whenever he leaves the players always have good things to say about him, but the same problems keep resurfacing at different clubs. Not clear how much time he’ll get at São Paulo, who lost 1-0 at home to Athletico-PR on the weekend, a team he previously managed and who fired him.

Some changes are easier to understand. Corinthians’ form had been dire and a 4-1 loss to Flamengo resulted in Fábio Carille losing his job. Some Corinthians fans think that the chance was correct, despite him winning three state championship trophies and the 2017 national Serie A title. I’m not sure; it wasn’t going well, but I’d put that down to poor recruitment (and the failure to replace Jo) and not the coach. Thiago Nunes will replace him next year for the top work he has done at Athletico Paranaense, who won the Brazilian Cup this year and Copa Sudamericana last year. The club’s hierarchy would do well to find him a striker.

Three coaches not under pressure to leave their clubs are gringos Jorge Jesus (Flamengo) and Jorge Sampaoli (Santos) and Renato Gaúcho (Grêmio). Flamengo will almost certainly win the title this year and Jesus has done a great job with the team. Sampaoli has worked on a much smaller budget, but the team has done really well too and are third. Jesus will be wanted by a host of teams around the world, as will Sampaoli, so both teams will need to open their wallets to keep them (not just for their salaries but to invest in the squad too) – more chance of that happening at Flamengo if you ask me.

Renato Gaúcho is another untouchable and is part of the furniture at Grêmio. Its rare that a manager stays with a club for so long, and I applaud both the manager and the club for it. The results speak for themselves. They don’t have the same budget as the likes of Flamengo or Palmeiras, but they have reached the Libertadores semi finals in each of the last three years, winning it in 2017. They also continue to develop young players – Arthur has become a star for Brazil and Barcelona, Everton was one of Brazil’s best players at the Copa America and there are more coming off the production line, in particular Matheus Henrique, a carbon copy of Arthur.

The managerial merry-go-round will continue to spin, but teams could do well to learn a few lessons from Grêmio.

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  1. Pingback: Um olhar mais atento ao carrossel gerencial do Brasil – Gazeta do Futebol

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