Gareca’s debut against Santos was more bitter than sweet: Palmeiras – in a terrific, blue jersey paying homage to Oberdan Cattani – created very little offensively, Leandro refusing to come down from his pedestal and Bruno César not showing even remote conditions to substitute Valdivia. Diogo worked hard as always, but was off target again and again. Without additional reinforcements, palmeirenses must pray for Henrique and Mouche become Batman and Robin for the rest of the season. The former (suspended yesterday) and the latter (getting in shape) might both be on against Cruzeiro this coming Sunday.
One positive aspect yesterday was the compact defensive system, although obviously still in need of tuning. Our players seemed to shorten distances between each other, pinning the opponent down, and playing closer to the adversary. Santos used speed and the flanks as countermeasures, and were, generally speaking, successful. Still, I believe Gareca’s on to something. something. Time will tell.
A second positive aspect was Gareca’s clear message to the youth academy: stay alert because your time will come. Against Santos, he pulled up centre-back Gabriel Dias, midfielder Eduardo Junior and striker Erik. Two of the three came on yesterday. The kids will only acquire experience if allowed to play, Gareca says. Nothing revolutionary in that philosophy, but difficulties have always surged when trying to implement, especially at Palmeiras, with the team considered either too good or too bad to let the kids in.
Even if Gareca proves successful in tuning Palmeiras defensively and offensively, even if he finds a few gems in the youth academy, reinforcements are urgently needed. At least a good to great striker and a great playmaker. Without these two, Palmeiras run the risk of relegation. And while we’re at it, a strong right-defender/winger is needed. Palmeiras need to FIND INVESTORS, INCREASE REVENUES, and DO WHATEVER IT TAKES to bring in these 2-3 players. There’s NOTHING more urgent right now.
Speaking of midfielders: Bernardo is back. The deal with Vitória went up in smoke as it was discovered that regulations prohibits someone playing for three different clubs during the same season. Bernardo came on once for Vasco and has played three games with Palmeiras. Oh, joy. Gareca, show us your magic.