Authorities continue to look back not forward
26 July ~ The return of Dunga as Brazil's national coach has perplexed a public still digesting the implications of shipping seven goals in a World Cup semi-final on home soil. As Dunga readily acknowledges, he has to win over the 80 per cent of the public who opposed his appointment in a recent poll. Ironically back in 2006 he was unveiled as the populist figure restoring pride after a shambolic World Cup. Tite, a Copa Libertadores champion with Corinthians in 2012, had been considered the frontrunner, while São Paulo's Muricy Ramalho and Santos coach Oswaldo de Oliveira were also mentioned.
More romantic pundits suggested Cuca, currently coaching in China, or Cruzeiro's Marcelo Oliveira, both considered as advocates of the futebol-arte epitomised by Brazil in 1982 and 1986.
The drubbing by Germany prompted calls for an overhaul of Brazilian football, not just a purge of the coaching staff. One idea mooted was that of a foreign coach but while estrangeiros have taken charge at Brazilian clubs there has been resistance to appointing one to the Seleçaõ. Pep Guardiola and José Mourinho are cited regularly as candidates, although a compromise option would be another South American, such as José Pékerman at Colombia or Marcelo Bielsa who was formerly with Chile. The apparently out-of-touch federation (CBF) president José Maria Marin initially even contemplated keeping faith with Luiz Felipe Scolari.
Dunga's appointment can be regarded as a slap in the face for Brazil's club coaches – as it was in 2006. Since the 2010 World Cup he has only coached for brief stint with Internacional in 2013. He can expect a tough ride – defeat in the 1990 World Cup saw this period dubbed the "Dunga Era". He ruffled the feathers of the TV network Rede Globo in South Africa in 2010 by denying preferential access to players and now admits he needs to improve his relationship with the media, but emphasised he would not "sell dreams".
The daily O Globo offered a tepid welcoming headline Little by Little: Without Revolution. Meanwhile, sports daily LANCE! argued that little has changed, borrowing a phrase from another former national coach, Mário Zagallo on their cover: We Are Going to Have To Swallow Him. Zagallo had said this as a riposte to criticism of his management of the team at the 1998 World Cup.
Dunga's immediate task is to start preparing Brazil effectively for the Copa América next year as well as the arduous World Cup qualifying marathon – some attributed Brazil's soft centre in 2014 to the absence of the fierce competition of South America's qualifiers. Even if the appointment of a former agent Gilmar Rinaldi as technical co-ordinator was a surprise, the CBF has got some things right.
The decision to delegate the Olympic campaign to Alexandre Gallo, the co-ordinator of Brazil's age-group teams, is another step forward if it means Olympic gold is no longer the holy grail for the CBF. In the past the senior coach had assumed this role. Another interesting idea is the use of a pool of former international players to work with the national team for a short period, potentially offering a more independent perspective.
Those seeking significant reforms in Brazilian football see Dunga's appointment as less important than improving the training of Brazil's football coaches. On a broader level Flamengo's replacement this week of coach Ney Franco by Vanderlei Luxemburgo, once considered one of the country's leading coaches but whose last national title came in 2004, suggests that Brazilian football continues to look back as often as forward – a hostage to its past. Robert Shaw