Sunday’s 3-1 defeat at home against Flamengo – Palmeiras’ last game this season at the Allianz Parque – resulted in both coach Mano Menezes and director of football Alexandre Mattos getting the axe. Corridor talk has current Santos coach Jorge Sampaoli as Menezes’ most likely replacement.
Hired in September, Mano headed Palmeiras in 20 games, computing 11 wins, four losses and five draws. The defeat against Flamengo was the fifth straight result without victory, preceded by defeats against Fluminense and Grêmio, and draws against Corinthians and Bahia. Assisting coach Andrey Lopes temporarily takes over the team in the final two rounds of the Brazilian Championship, away, against Goiás and Cruzeiro.
Mano Menezes was certainly not given much of a fighting chance, but rejection towards him was large at the onset and he seemed indeed without tools to tweak the mentality and playing style of the squad in the desired direction. In Brazil, long-term is inexistent; mid-term almost unheard of and short-term is king.
Contrary to Menezes, Alexandre Mattos had been in office for five years, initially receiving only praise but in the last couple of years facing growing criticism over questionable performance of expensive signing and for centralizing decisions (e.g. power). Palmeiras will now scout the market to fill his position, someone that could work with deputy director Cícero Souza, invited to stay but yet to respond.
At yesterday’s press conference announcing the changes, Palmeiras president Galiotte showed discontent regarding the squad’s overall posture in recent games. He stressed that to be a Palmeiras player you need technical quality, fighting spirit, respect and courage. He concluded that Palmeiras were to initiate a new stage, which would also entail a reformulation of the squad.
Clearly, Palmeiras need a bit of shock treatment. That said, major change this late in the semester demonstrates failed planning and lack of direction from the club’s highest strata. There is very little time to find the right pieces to start remounting. Apparently, the 2020 Paulista championship will be one great laboratory. Not that this is a problem. If you get things right in time for what matters: Brasileirão, Brazil Cup and Libertadores.
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