Winds of change can be felt at the Brazilian FA (CBF).
Yet, as the need is to look to the future, the vision seems to be looking at the past. In Tuesday’s press conference, the CBF president Jose Maria Marin talked about “numbers” backing Dunga’s return. But he forgot to mention that Brazil’s players and its history is measured by what they do in a World Cup.
Winning the Confederations Cup and Copa América is good but what made them great is how they performed on the greatest stage on earth. In that test, Dunga failed in a big way as did the Scolari and his brain trust.
Things did not go too well at the start of this new era - from Dunga’s reference of Nelson Mandela’s troubles to the confidence he had in the wise words of his good friend Enrico Sacchi. But many did see a more reflective Dunga, a coach that learned from his mistakes.
There was also Gilmar Rinaldi, Dunga’s teammate at USA 94, who was questioned more for his past than what he is able to offer in his present role. Rinaldi was a FIFA agent until last week when he was hired as the man that will overlook the national teams in Brazil. Such was the questioning by the press that outgoing president Marín had to interject defending the former agent’s integrity “as a person and as a family man”.
The Dunga call
The CBF seemed rushed in taking the Dunga call. Maybe it was a report in Globo stating that Dunga was offered a multi-million dollar deal - with a $5m bonus - should he take the Venezuelan national team to their first World Cup. Maybe that is what forced Marín and company confirmed his return despite the results in 2010 and his lack of popularity with the press and fans.
“Dunga’s reappointment is a sad indication of the lack of imagination in the CBF,” said sports commentator George Metellus. “(The CBF) is run by uncreative men that are more concerned about (the commercial end) than re-establishing the beauty of Brazilian football."
There was talk that Dunga might also take over as coach of Japan but he dismissed that rumour by saying that Tite was already hired. Ironically, Tite was one of the favourites to take over the Brazil job and was preferred over Dunga in several polls.
“I talked about Brazil being back to year zero,” said Brazilian journalist and the author of A To Zico, Mauro Savarese, who added that there was a resistance into reforming Brazilian football, not just at the national team level. “After this, I’ve reassessed my position. We are at year zero minus four.”
Brazil’s disaster was seen as early as quarter-finals of Copa Libertadores when none of its clubs were able to reach last-four since 1991. Prior to this year, Brazil’s was the most dominant league in that tournament having had teams in 19 out of the last 23 finals.
Former World Cup winner Vampeta came out Brazilian television challenging people to name two players from each of the big teams in that country that are national team considerations. Vampeta, in his argument, takes some of the blame away from the CBF and look at the other culprit- Brazilian clubs.
The tactics of coaches are a by-product of the demands within the Brasileirão. If a coach loses two or three matches, he would most likely lose his job.
Dunga knows that all too well. His only experience as a club coach ended badly as he led an Internacional side to a Gaúcho state title but crashed terribly in the Brasileirão, leaving them on the verge of relegation. Yet, his story is like several others’ and it was one of the reasons why you see Brazilian football far off the pace.
I talked about Brazil being back to year zero. After this, I’ve reassessed my position. We are at year zero minus four
“Football underwent a globalisation that harmed South American teams,” said Globo Esporte Porto Alegre pundit Caco da Motta. “They became more European and benefitted European sides as they became more South American because they signed players from the region.”
Where's the quality?
Brazil is still a country that generates player-transfer numbers that sound more like GDP of small countries. But its not creating the type of players that it once did. Long gone are the Romários, Bebetos, Ronaldinhos, Rivaldos and the Ronaldo that offered brilliance when needed.
Neymar came through and Lucas Moura is still finding his way but the number is low.
Most youngsters are sold quickly or moved around from club to club. Brazil did not qualify for the 2013 U20 World Cup and were knocked in quarterfinals at the U17 level. Those two blows, if you also want to include Dunga and Mano Menezes’ disasters in the last two Olympics, are part of the problem.
The next few months will be important to steer the ship for Dunga and the CBF. The competitions will be intense and frequent leading up to the Russia 2018. Then, and only then, will Dunga get his final verdict should he stay on the entire four-year cycle.
The problem though is that they’ve done the same thing wrong for several years and expect to get a different result. We all know how that usually works out.