It’s common football knowledge that teams normally respond well to a new coach, at least in the first round or two. It’s also pretty safe to assume that Kleina’s influence on the squad during the two and a half days available to him must be considered small to minimal. Nevertheless…
Against Figueirense, the starting eleven consisted of Bruno; Corrêa, Maurício Ramos, Thiago Heleno and Juninho; Henrique, Marcos Assunção, Márcio Araújo and Valdivia; Maikon Leite and Barcos. No surprises there. Arroz com feijão, as a Brazilian would say. However, there were minor changes (Barcos without his beard) and major improvements (Maikon Leite without that ridiculous turd-mohawk hairdo of his). And as soon as the ball started rolling, the change in attitude was perceived: fearlessness, determination, aggressiveness. Perhaps the clearest indicator of this was Palmeiras not relaxing even after having scored twice within ten minutes of kick-off. Importantíssimo. There’s hope for the remainder of the championship.
Hope and determination was also words used by uncontested captain Marcos Assunção after the game. “As long as there’s a shiver of hope, I’m fighting, we’re fighting. I we have to give our lives, we’ll give our lives”.
Palmeiras have never been a place for the weak. Now, it’s rather unusual for a player to chicken out in the manner as midfielder João Vítor did earlier this week, asking for a time out due to “having received threats” after making a crucial error that led to Corinthians’ second goal last week. He didn’t travel to Florianópolis to face Figueirense. As far as I’m concerned, he shouldn’t travel anywhere at all, neither ever again wear the Palmeiras jersey. In fact, it seems as this might be the most likely scenario, considering that João Vítor’s contract with Palmeiras expires 31 December. Ciao!
Speaking of cowards: in contrast to practice, vice-president Frizzo didn’t travel to Florianópolis, neither did any other director. Thus no one was present to represent Palmeiras at the highest level. Under normal circumstances this would be unadvisable. Considering that this was the first game of our new coach, nothing short of a disgrace. Shame on you, Frizzo. Shame.
Palmeirenses yesterday supported their team and today must side against Flamengo, Bahia and Coritiba: to diminish the gap to these three is key no matter what.
Our next game is this coming Saturday against Ponte Preta – coach Gilson Kleina’s former club – at the Pacaembu. After that, Palmeiras prepare for the first leg against the Colombian team Millonarios in the South America Cup group of 16.