This is the Palmeiras squad being welcomed at the Marechal Rondon airport, Cuiabá, ahead of last Sunday’s game against Ponte Preta. Say no more.

Four games since you last saw a line written here at Anything Palmeiras. Coach Marcelo Oliveira’s debut consisted of an odd-goal away defeat to Grêmio, leaving Palmeiras hovering just above the relegation zone. After that, we’ve seen three convincing victories without conceding goals: the spectacular 4-0 against São Paulo FC, 2-0 against Chapecoense and yesterday, the 2-0 away against Ponte Preta. Palmeiras have climbed to 7th position with 18 points, only five behind leaders Atlético Mineiro, Grêmio and Sport. This upcoming Wednesday, Florianópolis team Avaí – currently at 13th place with 13 points – visit the Allianz Parque.

Also worth mentioning from the last couple of weeks:

Palmeiras have signed 28-year-old centre-back Leandro Almeida (right) for four seasons, the former Coritiba captain being the club’s 23rd signing in 2015.

Striker Lucas Barrios, 30, has been given a week’s rest after participating in the South America Cup for Paraguay; he will undergo his medical and sign a three-year contract with Palmeiras early next week.

Argentine centre-back Fernando Tóbio is leaving Palmeiras for Boca Juniors, the loan running until the end of the season.

Ryder has had few opportunities at Palmeiras and is being returned to Fiorentina, who will pass on the 22-year-old offensive midfielder to Italian second division champions Carpi.

Last week, Palmeiras acquired two players to their youth divisions: Dudu Nardini (born 1997) and Klaidher (born 1999), both from Desportivo Brasil.

Palmeiras supporters are signing an online petition, requesting free admission for children under 2 years of age and discounts for children under the age of 6 at the Allianz Parque – a great initiative and duly supported by yours truly. 

Finishing off with some disappointing news: Palmeiras will not participate in the 2015 basketball season due to a lack of sponsors, the Nobre administration again showing remarkable ineffectiveness, putting a temporary (?) end to a very traditional modality within the Sociedade Esportiva Palmeiras – the Palmeiras Sporting Society.

From Scotland, with love.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

Alberto Valentim led Palmeiras to a tight 2-1 victory against Fluminense in his first and only game as interim coach at Palmeiras post Oswaldo de Oliveira: yesterday, Marcelo Oliveira was presented as new coach, contract until end of 2016, and has already conducted two training sessions.

lucas_barriosToday, on facebook and twitter, Paraguayan national team striker Lucas Barrios (right), aged 30, announced he will fly Palmeiras’ colours as soon as the Copa das Américas finishes in July: great catch!

28-year-old Coritiba centre-back Leandro Almeida is expected to sign for Palmeiras any day now: the former captain of the team from Paraná has been on the Verdão’s wish list for some time, but Coritiba have refused to negotiate.

New coach, new striker, defender in the pipeline, everything is good except for the disgraceful state of the Allianz Parque pitch: WTorre and World Sports – the two responsible – released a joint statement on Monday, blaming the poor condition of the grass on the “excessive number of events”, without making any future predictions or commitments – pathetic.

From Sweden, with love.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

Oswaldo de Oliveira was sacked earlier this week.

Although not yet officially announced, Marcelo Oliveira – 2013-2014 champion with Cruzeiro – is taking over the reigns.

Striker Alecsandro has signed a contract until end of 2016, promising to score plenty of goals.

Alan Patrick and Ayrton has left for Flamengo: thank you and goodbye.

Today, a bust over legendary keeper Oberdan Cattani – who would have turned 96 on this very day had he still been with us – was unveiled at the Allianz Parque.

Today also marked the day the Rua Turiassú changed name to Rua Palestra Italia, paying homage to Palmeiras’ glorious past.

Mattos is hunting in Europe: rumour says it’s big game in his crosshairs this time.

Short but sweet as doors close and we’re ready for takeoff. Avanti!

After good performances against Corinthians and Inter, Palmeiras frustrated supporters by playing very badly yesterday against Figueriense, losing 2-1. With six rounds in the Brasileirão, Palmeiras occupy 15th place with meagre six points after one victory and three draws. Three tough opponents await in the coming weeks: Fluminense home, Grêmio away and São Paulo home. Calls for coach Oswaldo de Oliveira’s dismissal are becoming louder by the day.
In Brazilian football, the one thing that counts – and from day one – is results. Results, as in point won. Not as in improvements, development, performance. If the points are not won, dismissal is the modus operandi. This morning, Coritiba coach Marquinhos Santos bit the dust. That’s the sixth coach down in six rounds.

Do not try to apply logic. Recently at Palmeiras, several of those considered “the best” have been in command: Luxemburgo, Muricy Ramalho, Luis Felipe Scolari. Felipão did give us a Brazil Cup title, but he also relegated us. Clearly, getting a star coach is no guarantee.

Who was Marcelo Oliveira before winning the Brazilian championship twice with Cruzeiro 2013-2014?

Oswaldo de Oliveira is serious, methodological, hardworking, calm, confident. He enjoys the respect of the squad. His price tag is reasonable. Is Oswaldo worse than the 14 other coaches currently ahead of him in the tables? Not likely. He is actually considered one of the better. Or was considered.

There is consensus on one thing only: the way coaches’ heads roll in Brazil is insane. Question is, is anyone ready to act differently when pressured? It takes courage to break the paradigm. To stand ground, not give in to protests from supporters and the constant negative publicity. To give a coach enough time to truly implement – or not – a philosophy, tactical patterns and variations.

Adjustments to the Palmeiras squad are still being made. There is money in the bank. If given more time and a few key players, Oswaldo have every opportunity to do decent work at Palmeiras. Will they let him? Rumours have it he will not last the week. In that case, expect Cuca or Marcelo to take over. And Palmeiras to slip into ordinary. Just as the lot.

— ooo —

alecgolToday or tomorrow, Palmeiras are expected to announce veteran striker Alecsandro from Flamengo. The 34-year-old is very dangerous inside the box, not least with his head, which is a characteristic currently lacking in the Palmeiras squad. Contract until the end of 2016, probably. Good move by Mattos.

In a reverse flow, right-back Ayrton and midfielder Alan Patrick could be leaving Palmeiras for Flamengo. Excellent, if confirmed.

Two other less availed players have been shipped to Oeste: right-back Welder and forward Rodolfo.

Then there’s Dudu, who is back playing while awaiting a new trail (remember that shove to the back of the referee a few weeks ago?) The second trail was actually set for today but was postponed, until further notice, upon request from Palmeiras.

Without that much conviction…

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

Horrendous away against Joinville, odd-goal defeat at home to Goiás, then a goalless home draw against third-division ASA.

To quite a few, the above is spelled Disaster, just like that, with a capital D. Coach Oswaldo de Oliveira is utterly incompetent and the squad dubious, at least. Another year down the drain, fighting relegation, unless the directors take immediate action. Some tilt into extreme positions: “would be good if Palmeiras lost the derby to speed up the sacking of Oswaldo”.

To others, our coach is on to something that hasn’t yet materialised. “Give him time”, they say. “Let’s not commit the mistake of decades before us, firing the coach after only a few disappointing results line up”. To this bunch, Palmeiras are creating working hard and creating chances, but that last bit of quality/fluke/magic is yet to happen. But when it does…

It’s extreme, one way or the other, as always with Palmeiras. Sensible people watch the same scenario unfolding, but arrive at completely different conclusions. “Palmeiras have no pattern/Oswaldo never changes the pattern”.  “The 4-2-3-1 is rubbish/the 4-2-3-1 is irrelevant”. “Our squad lacks quality/our squad is going through a phase”.

Considering the scenario and recent results, a devastating defeat against “the team that would go far in the Champions League” led by “the best coach in Brazil” would not only be natural, but also decree the beginning of the end for coach Oswaldo.

Not quite yet. For some, a stroke of luck. For others, proof that the mesh is finally happening. Either way, Palmeiras yesterday dominated Corinthians completely, from start to finish, perfectly executing a clear gameplan: aggressively advanced defending positions, mobility, alternation of tasks both offensively and defensively, mental strength and discipline. 0-2 and Corinthians were let off the hook.

Oswaldo has an attacking DNA. He has been pushing the squad hard during training: those following Palmeiras’ practice sessions report Dudu full throttle always and Leandro (the one from Grêmio, just back after foot surgery) doing extra time. Motivation doesn’t seem to be a problem. And some of the lost confidence was certainly recovered yesterday.

Thursday night, Internacional visit the Allianz Parque for the first time. 18.000 tickets sold already.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

table_05.25Palmeiras exited the sold-out Allianz Parque humiliated by Goiás. Humiliated not so much due to performance, but the end result. Ball possession does not win games, especially if you do not take the shots but only do crosses. Halfway into the second half we finally saw some vertical passing action, but it proved too late. Another disappointing result, and displays on the stuttering machine have gone from yellow to red. Yes, it’s early in the championship, but seven (considered easy) points are lost and Palmeiras are flirting with the relegation zone.

Before I forget: the referee was a disaster, but that does not excuse the poor result, neither how our players acted and reacted on the pitch, seeing the yellow all the time. Emotional stability is key.

On paper, yesterday’s starting eleven is good. And should improve further as two fundamentally important players – Arouca and Cleiton Xavier – return from injury this week. And if there was one positive flash yesterday, it is spelled Kelvin. That being said, a few tweaks are urgently needed:

# Removal of Valdivia from the squad: it’s crystal clear he will not renew his contract and the sooner Palmeiras learn to live without him, the better.

# Signing of a star quality centre-forward A.S.A.P.

# Signing of a seasoned centre-back, a “sheriff”, as one says in Brazil.

# Signing of a quality playmaker.

# Tightening of coach Oswaldo de Oliveira’s thumbscrews: the “go-deep-cross-the-ball” routine is not working – at least not with the pieces currently in the squad – and he needs to develop other tactical options. Personally, I’m against his dismissal at this point, but another three rounds without results and Oswaldo is toast.

Wednesday night, the first clash with ASA in the third phase of the Brazil Cup. Allianz Parque. The 10 pm kick-off time will certainly spoil chances of any larger audience. A solid victory is imperative to boost confidence ahead of Sunday’s derby against Corinthians.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!


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