As expected, the CBF have appointed Luiz Felipe Scolari, Felipão, as the new head coach of the seleção, replacing Mano Menezes. The clues were laid out for all to see when Felipão was appointed as a consultant to the Ministry of Sport at the end of September, not long after leaving his post as head coach of Palmeiras.
While on the one hand Mano Menezes is cold, serious and thoughtful, Felipão is charismatic, cheery, and has a far better connection with the Brazilian public. Considering the magnitude of the task of leading Brazil to the 2014 World Cup, Felipão’s personality fits the bill.
This doesn’t take anything away from the ridiculous timing of Menezes’s dismissal. After surviving a poor Copa América and the disastrous Olympic final against Mexico, Menezes made some real progress and got the team playing the way he wanted – compact, with great movement off the ball and high pressing. For the first time in years, Brazil were playing like Brazil. But then Menezes was sacked.
Menezes made several mistake throughout his tenure, particularly in his selections, but I still believe that he should have continued.
My fear is that this decision will prove to be retrograde. Felipão is an experienced coach, and tends to be successful in a knockout setting, but his tactical methods may be becoming outdated.
Upon leading Palmeiras to the Copa do Brasil earlier this year, Felipão shifted the side into a 3-5-2 formation and packed the midfield with limited defensive-minded players. This approach is a polar opposite to the one employed by Mano Menezes, which saw the midfield composed of technical players who could defend and attack.
During the rest of his time in charge of Palmeiras, Felipão implemented a type of percentage-based football, relying on set-pieces and aerial power. Again, this does not translate to the current seleção.
However, if Felipão can attempt to continue with Menezes’s approach, this change of manager could work out. Speaking to blogger Marcus Alves, Mano’s assistant Sidnei Lobo said: ‘whoever takes over will inherit a seleção that is practically ready’. Too much change could disrupt their rhythm, Felipão should try to keep things the same.
The appointment of Carlos Alberto Parreira as ‘national team co-ordinator’ could prove to be crucial. His role will be to advise Felipão, much like ex-‘national team director’ Andrés Sanches advised Menezes.
Parreira, unlike Sanches, is an experienced coach with a lot of good advice to give. I don’t imagine that he will interfere too much, and his input can only be beneficial to Felipão and the future of the seleção. Furthermore, Parreira reminds me of Mano Menezes in his ideas and mannerisms, and could be useful in this period of transition from one coach to another.