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oswaldo.
When you start off with the right foot, things tend to work better. Palmeiras’ restructuring began with CEO Alexandre Mattos, officially still working at Cruzeiro but already pulling the strings also at Palmeiras. Mattos indicated Cicero Souza as his right hand, the man who will make the link between the CEO and the squad on a day-to-day basis. Souza was announced last week. And tomorrow, Oswaldo Oliveira will be announced coach.

64-year old Oswaldo has experience at Santos, SPFC, Corinthians, Flamengo, Vasco and Botafogo, in addition to four years of coaching in Japan. He will sign a one-year contract and is, I believe, the best option available. Mano Menezes is expensive and not to my liking; Tite idem, and is already putting pen to paper at Corinthians; Cuca is making heaps of money abroad; Abel Braga is leaving Internacional and could have been an option, but will probably seek his fortune outside of Brazil. Thus, Oswaldo it is. And the decision came quickly: an indicator as good as any that Paulo Nobre isn’t the one calling the shots anymore.

Now, players. Strong defensive midfielder Amaral has arrived from Goiás. 23-year-old centre-back Vitor Hugo, one of the best during América Mineiro’s campaign in the second division, comes on a one-year loan with a buying option. 26-year-old right-defender Lukas, Botafogo, is expected to sign any day. Expectations are also high regarding the arrival of 22-year-old defensive midfielder Thiago Mendes, also from Goiás, although both SPFC and a Ukrainian club are competing for the player.

A few bigger names are also entertained, including a first-rank keeper to maintain Prass on his toes, a striker and a playmaker. We’ll call them as they are confirmed.

Cliffhanger

cliffhanger>
If there’s one thing we can conclude about Paulo Nobre’s style of management, it’s that he’s not keen on making adjustments on the go. He follows through, he persists, he keeps the direction… Even against better judgment. For example, he refused to accept that no master sponsor were to be found paying the amounts he had in mind, and thus, Palmeiras have been without for the last two years. Actually, Palmeiras’ marketing division has been heavily criticised almost from the start, but Nobre took ages to promote change, sacking Giannubilo and putting Brunoro there instead, removing the latter from the even more heavily criticised football department. No, Nobre doesn’t like correcting the course, possibly because correcting indicates he wasn’t 100% on the money from the start. Never mind that a constantly changing scenario might justify correction along the way: our president is pig-headed. And that pig-headedness almost drove us over the cliff in 2014.

With this in mind, the more important to kick off 2015 with the right foot and a.s.a.p. Yesterday’s dismissals of director of football José Carlos Brunoro, manager Omar Feitosa and coach Dorival Júnior is a welcome change of pace: many of us feared Nobre would keep these walking dead for a few more weeks, especially as Brunoro’s and Feitosa’s contracts expire by the end of the year.

Alexandre_MattosAlthough not officially announced, Alexandre Mattos is expected to take over after Brunoro. In late 2012, with Cruzeiro finishing the Brasileirão just above the relegation zone, Mattos was brought in to reformulate the squad – rather successfully, one can conclude: he dismissed 25 players, signed 23 and turned Cruzeiro into Brazilian champions in 2013 before repeating the feat this year. Today, at a press conference, Mattos announced he was leaving Cruzeiro in search for new challenges. Apparently, Palmeiras have offered him one, in addition to a significant pay raise. Mattos remains at Cruzeiro until 31 December, and then “he’ll start looking around a bit”, as he put it earlier today.

Cicero-SouzaAlso Omar Feitosa’s replacement is apparently settled: Cícero Souza, with previous works at Grêmio, Criciúma, Sport and Bahia. In the corridors, the word is Mattos indicated Souza as his right hand of choice and the man who will initiate the cleaning up before Mattos himself arrives in early January. Souza is likely be announced before the end of the week.

If these pieces all fall in place, Palmeiras are on the right track, with a top-to-bottom approach where Mattos and Souza, together with Nobre, will find a suitable coach. The quartet will then assembly a squad for 2015 and beyond. Nobre, hopefully, having as little a say as possible in the process.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

We made it. We remain in the first division. By the thinnest skin of our teeth.

As predicted, not primarily based on own merits, but to a large part due to the incompetence of others. Palmeiras drew 1-1 with Atlético Paranaense, Henrique scoring the Verdão’s first goal at Allanz Parque by conversion of a penalty.
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The draw did remove Bahia’s chances of relegating Palmeiras, but Vitória needed but one goal at home against Santos to grab that last spot. Instead, in the dying minutes, Santos opened up the scorecard and 16 million palmeirenses could let out a sigh of relief. Both teams from Bahia – Vitória and Bahia – relegated. Palmeiras safe, by the lowest accumulation of points in the history of the Brazilian Championship: 40.

Early next week, we look at the future. Good night.

Please hold

A dozen of topics to discuss here at Anything Palmeiras, including the ongoing tweaking of the Allianz Parque and the situation of the grass after the two Paul McCartney shows last week; transfer speculations, not only concerning players but also coach and football manager (Mattos, responsible for the 2013-2014 highly successful campaign at Cruzeiro is speculated to replace Brunoro); “security concerns” mobilising the prosecutor’s office and the São Paulo police department, and many others.

But nothing of that matters until Sunday, after 7pm. For now, there is only The Game. We talk later, OK.

Black Saturday

Early afternoon, and there’s the first indicator that Palmeiras would be swimming against the tide. Whiz kid Gabriel Fernando opened up the scorecard for Palmeiras in the U17 São Paulo championship final against Santos, but the “Peixe” equalised then reverted the score. As the referee chose to ignore a scandalous penalty committed by Santos’ keeper in the dying minutes of the game, the title slipped out of reach. Our boys played a fantastic championship through and through: 21 victories, 3 draws and 2 defeats, conceiving only 17 goals while scoring a whopping 97 in total, 37 bearing the mark of Gabriel Fernando.

Meanwhile, for the first time in the Club’s history, members were casting their votes in the presidential elections. Ballots were still open when Palmeiras entered the pitch at the Beira-Rio stadium in Porto Alegre, determined to wrestle at least a point from Internacional. The Verdão, with Allione substituting Valdivia in a playmaker/attacker role in an otherwise defensive line-up, supported well Inter’s initial blitz, compacting the midfield and patiently awaiting the right opportunity to launch counter-attacks. Nevertheless it was Internacional who took the lead after 20 minutes, a harmless shot being deflected by Marcelo Oliveira, leaving Prass completely hapless as the packed stadium exploded in celebration: Inter were securing a spot in next year’s Libertadores Cup.

At that very same moment, it was announced that sitting president Paulo Nobre had been re-elected by a 60-40 per cent margin: 2.421 votes against 1.611 for opposition candidate Wlademir Pescarmona. Out of the 10.500 members, a little over 4.000 turned up to vote.

Back at the Beira-Rio, Palmeiras equalised after a splendid cross by Victor Luís, met by defensive midfielder Renato’s forehead: his first brace for Palmeiras (not counting goals as a junior player in lower divisions). Minutes later, the half-time break. The second half looked much like the first, until Inter’s coach Abel Braga decided to make a few adjustments, bringing more speed and mobility to his attack. The payoff came immediately and Inter, in a natural way, took the scorecard to 3-1 before the final whistle.
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With our players leaving the pitch, attention shifted to Vitória’s away game against Flamengo. Sighs of (relative) relief as Flamengo with authority constructed a solid 4-0 victory, keeping Vitória parked in the relegation zone at 38 points, one point behind Palmeiras.

With one round to go, Palmeiras secure a spot in the first division if beating Atlético Paranaense at home. In case of a draw, fingers crossed Santos manages at least a draw, away, against Vitória. In case Palmeiras suffer a defeat, neither Vitória nor Bahia (playing away against Coritiba) can be allowed a victory. Nerve wrecking.

With the current state of affairs, on the surface of things, it is rather surprising Paulo Nobre was re-elected. The opposition calls him “the worst president in Palmeiras’ history”, and yet they were unable to put forward a candidate strong enough to take him down. Palmeiras, on the pitch, have deteriorated, with Nobre personally responsible (as highlighted repeatedly here at Anything Palmeiras). Still, there seems to be an understanding among a majority of the Club’s members that Nobre’s administration has brought institutional solidity to Palmeiras for the first time in decades. The coming two years is the time to cash in on the sacrifice made. “Nobre has paved the way. Now we’ll see what he’s truly made of”.

Nobre himself knows that if he has been given any slack at all, it’s because Palmeiras were in dire straits when he grabbed the steering wheel. Now that the financial course has been corrected, there are no excuses for not employing top executives, managers, football directors, and assembling a strong team. Nobre says structural changes will be implemented only after the end of the Brasileirão, but he has indicated the way: either a vice-president or a contracted Director of Football will be in charge of the team. Let’s desperately hope so: mind you, Nobre made the same promise two years ago, to no effect.

What shouldn’t take long is the extension of Gabriel Fernando’s contract: the kid has expressed his wish to stay and his manager this week said that all details had been agreed upon and that, for the sake of ethics, they were only await the results of the presidential election before signing. I admit I didn’t quite get the “for the sake of ethics” part, but as long as pen is put to paper, I’m cool.

“Cool” is not what you would call the reaction from some of Nobre’s most virulent critics after the election result had been made official. The traditionally complicated political climate at Palmeiras has been further fuelled by the meagre results on the pitch during the club´s centenary, stirring what can only be described as hatred. Hatred and rage, transformed into verbal and physical abuse. Yesterday, I received my share of the former, with promises of the latter, due to my [sic] “two years of unrestricted support to the Nobre administration”.

If these people actually read Anything Palmeiras, I conclude they never hit the refresh button. Or they couldn’t care either way: anyone not equally revolted as they become “the enemy”, and is attacked as such.

So be it. As far as ”Anything Palmeiras” goes, I have but one commitment: write as truthfully I can about the way I see and experience Palmeiras and palmeirenses. I get but one thing in return: feedback. And feedback is my fuel.

It has been two difficult years. I believe the two coming years will be better, much better. But only if Palmeiras beat Atlético Paranaense to remain in Série A. Today, tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, every hour up until kick-off on Sunday, the only thing on my and everybody else’s mind must be VICTORY, and ON THE PITCH.

SCOPPIA CHE LA VITTORIA È NOSTRA!!!

nobre pesca.
This coming Saturday, the little more than 10.000 members of Palmeiras’ social club will elect a president for the upcoming two years. For the first time, voting for president is not an exclusive right of the consiglieri, Palmeiras slowly taking steps toward greater democracy. That being said: any presidential candidate had to receive a minimum 15% of votes in a pre-election decided by said counsellors to be allowed to run, and only two candidates made the cut – sitting president Paulo Nobre and the opposition candidate Wlademir Pescarmona, the latter tied to the União Verde e Branca political group including former president Belluzzo.

Anything Palmeiras presented both candidates with three questions ahead of the upcoming elections. Regrettably, only Pescarmona chose to reply. Below, the short “interview”.

Anything Palmeiras: If elected, which three important changes at Palmeiras are to be expected during your 2015-2017 mandate?

Wlademir Pescarmona: 1) the recruitment of an executive for the football department, a professional who is updated and currently employed in a relevant position. 2) the creation of a support group to the presidency, with the mission to seek out new partnerships. 3) improved relations with WTorre and other partners.

AP: Which three policies/practices will be maintained at whatever cost?

WP: 1) not spend more than is being raised. 2) not anticipate revenues beyond the time of your mandate. 3) nurture the relationship with partners, using the support group, to build and maintain a strong and competitive football team.

AP: During your mandate, what will Palmeiras do to increase visibility internationally?

WP: use the influence of businessmen and designate “ambassadors”, in particular targeting the North American market. 

spying_glass.
An untried practice may help deal with the root of problems that for almost 40 years have been sickening one of the most passionately loved football clubs in the world.

*by Erasmo München

To those of us that support Palmeiras, the last 38 years – all years after the 1976 trophy in the São Paulo state league – have seen penury of results, the exception being the 8 years of the Palmeiras & Parmalat “shared-management experiment”.

Yes, there were near exception cases like the good teams of 1978 and 1979, then the 1983 and 1986 line ups that also almost made it, the 1989 team with lots of signings coupled with the iron fisted rule of our former goal keeper as coach that lost one match and ended up knocked out in the quarter finals; plus the wins in 2008 and 2012.

But the fact is that during this period, when left to its own devices, the club most of the times didn’t quite make it and only won twice, which actually adds to the theory: from 1976 onwards, except for the time that Parmalat brought a combination of torrential cash flow with sound management practices, plus the political lull that it engendered, nothing really lastingly good happened to the Verdão.

What can we do to overcome this “kind of curse”?

A global centre of excellence in football players
I am 55 years old and I still remember the first time that my dad took me to a Palmeiras match. That happened in 1965, the stadium was Ulrico Mursa in Santos and the score was Portuguesa Santista 1 x 2 Palmeiras. 

Since then, and mostly after 1970, I became a fervent follower of the club and got used to one refrain that resembled the slogan of Ultragaz a liquefied gas company very active then. It used to say “every other day, Ultragaz is at your door” (to deliver gas); to the football arena, it translated as “every other year, Palmeiras wins a title” (ano sim, ano não, o Palmeiras é campeão, for those of us who understand Portuguese).

I saw Tupazinho, Servilho, Gallardo (he scored the two goals in the first game I mentioned above), Zequinha, Djalma Santos, Djalma Dias, Ferrari, Rinaldo, Copeu, Jaime, Minuca, Nelson, Baldochi, Dé, Pio, Hector Silva etc.

Then from 1972 up to 1975, the renowned “academy part 2”: Leão, Eurico, Luis Pereira, Alfredo and Zeca; Dudu and Ademir; Edu, Leivinha, Cesar and Ney. Came 1976 and in spite of the emptiness felt due to the exit of the likes of Luis Pereira, Leivinha (gone to play in Spain for Atletico Madrid), Eurico (left to play for Grêmio), Dudu (retired and acting as coach for the club), Zeca (also retired), the team managed to rely on good replacements and plucked up another São Paulo state league win.

And before my early years as supporter, there had been other wonderful players like Romeo, Fiúme, Cattani, Heitor, Tosi, Jair, Lima, Mazzola, Julinho etc. In other words, as a lineage of good players, Palmeiras has always been considered a global centre of excellence!

Excellence in players requires a reasonable level of political unity
What none of us supporters knew is that at that very time – the 1970s – a hidden “revolution” – one should say an authentic coup d’etat – was quietly taking place. The politics of the club were being hijacked by one individual whose only aim has been to dominate the decisions and probably for his private benefit. After that, politicking and disunity became the “core value”, the “guiding principle” of the club. 

Yes, Palmeiras had never been a paragon of peace, but despite the internal fights for power and for winning an argument, when it came to bring about what was best for the club and the football team, all political forces used to “row in the same direction up the river”. Not by accident, one famous expression in Brazil seems to have been coined in Palmeiras’ politics prior to 1976: “it all ended in pizza”, as a sign that even hot debates could be sorted out around a good chunk of dough, tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese sprinkled with oregano, as long as the best solution for the common purpose had been achieved.

After this individual reached the central stage of the club’s politics though it all changed and the implied motto of his dealings is “the end justifies the means”, as Machiavelli would say.

The results of this state of affairs are appallingly obvious: rarefied number of titles, two relegations (perhaps three), loss of position in the rank of supporters, downgrading of the club’s brand market value – the difficulty in finding a good sponsor is a good proxy for that – debts, terrific difficulties in acquiring working capital. And apart from the benefits expected from the renovated stadium, perspectives are rather gloom.

Yes, there is the direct vote for president that will be tried for the first time this year that many see as a promising move. But that also is a an uncertain step because of fears that the average club member may not be as sensitive to the football team’s problems: it’s known even that many club members are supporters of rival teams, and that became members only to benefit from the club’s facilities.

Political unity entails an as yet untried action: full transparency
Therefore, the main conclusion one draws from all these years of disunity and poor performance is that for the team to continually succeed and attract the admiration of supporters, the number one factor is not to have excellence in football players although that is a non-negotiable requirement. 

But for this requirement to take place, the number one condition is to have a solid amount of unity in the way the team is governed, i.e. decisions have to be taken exclusively for the good of the team and there cannot be any level of boycotting.

The question is “how do we achieve this”? After all, boycotts and individualism driven opposition are hard to put the finger on, aren’t they? And if a solution for that were so obvious, after almost 40 years it’d probably have been put in practice.

There is one thing though that I haven’t seen tried so far, that is full transparency. Full transparency can prune those that “row the canoe in the wrong direction”.

Let’s expose the real culprits. Let’s bring their dealings into the open. Let’s show who benefits from the poor signings of overrated players, let’s show the supporters the real terms of the agreements signed behind the curtains, let’s find out if there is someone who boycotts the preparation of the team, why players shirk instead of giving their maximum.

As it stands today, the executive leadership bear the brunt of the failures. Many certainly deserve it. But, I am sure that in almost 40 years we had good managers with real commitment to the club but that have been sabotaged by uncommitted people.

I firmly believe that this will not only intimidate them now, but it will help eradicate their existence in the future. We the supporters have to know who gains so that we lose. People like this individual who has been in control of the politics of Palmeiras have to be set apart from the process and exposing them is an untried way to accomplish this.

Doing this, we can foster that “reasonable unity” mentioned above and then stand a chance to bring back the times when rooting for Palmeiras was pleasurable, motivating, reinvigorating.

Let’s make it happen. The club deserves it, the club supporters deserve it, the Brazilian sports community deserves it.

The centennial history of Palmeiras deserves it!

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*Erasmo München is 55 years old, Brazilian, and the biological child of an Italian man and a Brazilian women. Early in life, Erasmo was adopted by a family of Italian descent: becoming a passionate palmeirense was definitely his destiny. Holding two university degrees (Economics and Administration), he works as project auditor for a Dutch humanitarian entity.

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From time to time, you will find contributions from guest writers, on a variety of topics, here at Anything Palmeiras. Feel free to leave your feedback – either directly in the comments field or contacting the author.

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