The optimist’s conviction is being tested already, as we’re entering the third week of the New Year. So far, January has been delivering one slap after the other. The signing of much needed reinforcements is not happening at the expected rate, and the players that do seem to be on their way are promising at best. “Do seem”, I write, as even Maikon Leite could choose to break his pre-contract with Palmeiras and stay at Santos. And seriously speaking, I’m not sure I can blame him. The way things are looking right now, being an option on Santos’ bench might seem more attractive than pulling on a Palmeiras jersey. Saturday’s 0-0 against Botafogo/SP in the opening game of the Paulista state championship was quite uninspiring and deserved every boo coming from the roughly 7.000 Palmeiras supporter present. Scolari admitted the team did not look its best, but promised a Palmeiras on its toes within 15 days. One more optimist, our Mr. Scolari.
The uncertainty regarding new arrivals is backed by continuous and alarming news from Palmeiras’ medical department: Pierre needs surgery (correction of a longstanding plantar fasciitis in his right foot) and will be absent for at least three months; Valdivia’s scheduled to return to the pitch only in February (is it that thigh again?); Lincoln misses Thursday’s game, also due to pains in his thighs; Marcos… If he can play every other game, reversing with Deola, it’s a bonus. Thus, key players are out already before the season even started; what’s going on?
In addition, players and directors keep washing their dirty laundry in the open. Last week, defender Danilo and director of football Pescarmona had a go at each other over player salaries. Will they ever learn to keep their mouths shut in front of microphones?
Then there’s the promising sub-20 squad… They were doing well in the Copa São Paulo – a national championship cup – finishing first in their group after having won their three opening games, scoring eleven times and suffering no goals. In the knockout phase that followed (starting with 32 teams), the Verdãzinho was eliminated after losing 2-0 to Nacional/SP. Palmeiras is the only of the four big São Paulo teams never to have won the sub-20 Championship. Better luck next year.
Finally, in the horizon… Elections drawing nearer. The clouds are pitch dark and the rumble… I’m sure Thor is keeping himself busy, riding that chariot of his.