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Kleina.
After another embarrassing defeat – this time 2-1 against middle-of-the-tables second division Sampaio Corrêa for the first leg of the second round of the Brazil Cup – coach Gilson Kleina this afternoon was relieved of his duties. In command since September of 2012 and for a total of 105 games, he ties with Humberto Cabelli as the 14th coach having led Palmeiras the most. Kleina’s final score at Palmeiras reads 56 victories, 20 draws and 29 defeats. Assisting coach Alberto Valentim is grabbing the wheel temporarily and will lead the team against Goiás on Saturday.

Palmeiras have summoned for a press conference at 17h, local time. A new coach is not expected to be announced at this point.

Stay tuned for further updates.

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cotoveloThere’s no denying we’re broken. Financially (yes, that’s old news), in spirit (from bad to worse on the pitch) and, as of yesterday, also in regard to Prass’ right elbow: our keeper fractured it and underwent surgery yesterday (Monday) night. Pre-surgery, Prass posted an x-ray of his elbow on instagram. The forecast? Some three months of recovery…
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Sunday’s game was yet another indicator that Kleina’s time is up. Palmeiras started well, but that was much owed to Flamengo’s experimental line-up. Flamengo coach Jayme de Almeida made adjustments in half-time and within 15 minutes, our opponent had turned a 1-2 defeat into a 3-2 superiority, later increased to 4-2. Palmeiras’ defence was in shambles, accepting four braces from a team who had yet to score in this year’s Brasileirão. Kleina chose defensive midfielder Marcelo Oliveira to form couple with Lúcio as centre lock: sturdy but too slow when paired up. Add weak Josimar and Serginho on the midfield, and our centre-backs were one-on-one with Flamengo’s forwards time and time again. Without players in the medical department, Palmeiras still have nothing resembling a fixed starting eleven, much less a pattern of play. Kleina has had plenty of time on his hands and excuses are running thin. Sure, we need to fill a few positions; this has been a topic in previous posts. Nevertheless, Kleina should have been able to work around some of the problems, not least by putting replacements into good use. Instead, we see the likes of Mendieta, Eguren and Wellington constantly on the bench or not even on it. From Kleina, improvisations, one after the other.

As of now, at least four factors help Kleina remain in the chair: a) Nobre dislikes attitudes that seem impulsive or reveal a lack of planning; b) Palmeiras could do without paying the two months’ worth of salary (roughly US$ 175.000) Kleina is entitled to in the case of dismissal; c) there are currently very few coach options available on the market; d) Kleina enjoys strong support from the squad.

Yesterday night the squad travelled to São Luis for the Brazil Cup game tomorrow Wednesday against Sampaio Corrêa. Understandable, Nobre sustains Kleina is not threatened, “guaranteeing” continuity. Let’s see if he’ll be humming the same melody on Thursday: there are whispers in the corridors regarding the possible comeback of more than controversial Vanderley Luxemburgo: four times Palmeiras coach between 1993 and 2009, winning four São Paulo Championships and two Brazilian Championships, among others.

Palmeiras: not for the weak of heart.

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shotdown.
There’s a lot to be said. Palmeiras’ obligation last Sunday was to dominate Ituano just like Bragantino were dominated three days before, reinforcing the tremendous gap between the two teams in terms of tradition, supporter base, national and international projection and, not least, payroll. True that Ituano sported and still sport the best defence so far in the tournament, with only 10 goals suffered in, now, 17 games, but that’s a mere detail: Palmeiras, playing at second home Pacaembu and before a 31.000 head strong crowd had nothing but an obligation to fulfil: beat Ituano to face Santos in the Paulistão finals.

It’s in the nature of obligations to occasionally turn into nightmares. And looking closely, Palmeiras’ undeniable superiority started to deteriorate already against Bragantino, with the referee, as so often, turning a blind eye to the over-physical gameplay commonly adopted by less technical teams. Especially Valdivia was targeted, his right ankle so swollen after the game against Bragantino, Palmeiras’ medic vetoed him from the starting eleven against Ituano. And Ituano followed the script laid out days before: Alan Kardec received a challenge from behind and went down, the Ituano aggressor not even seeing the yellow. Two offensive key players out against the best defence of the championship. Not good.

In addition, Kleina’s choices for the starting eleven and bench were questionable. Tiago Alves was dislocated from his position as centre-back to the right, leaving everyone wondering why Bruninho wasn’t even on the bench. With Kardec’s exit, Vinícius came on, proving once again he adds nothing to the squad. Wesley looked like he was enjoying a walk in the park, while Leandro repeated his lousy performance of previous games.

Palmeiras were nevertheless clearly superior, were in possession of the ball for most of the time and created several opportunities. As time went by, with the ref allowing for the over-physical style to prevail, our players started to show both frustration and nervousness, looking for quick solutions and missing simple passes. Ituano on the other hand maintained their posture, firmly executing the gameplan set out in the first minute: dragging out the status quo all the way to a penalty shootout. Fate wanted differently and reworded Ituano with the one goal close to the final whistle, formally dictating Kleina’s 100th game for Palmeiras a tragedy.

Previous years, the defeat would throw Palmeiras heads first into a bottomless pit. As Gian Oddi at ESPN insightfully wrote a few days back: for those inside the club who feed on the frustration and passion of many, the worse Palmeiras perform, the better for their sordid political ambitions. If crashing out of the Paulistão jeopardises the continuation of the silent and ungrateful revolution currently taking place at Palmeiras, Oddi argues that throwing away the chances to the Paulistão title would be the last of the club’s problems. He’s absolutely right.

All this while remembering that Corinthians didn’t even make it to the knockout phase and that São Paulo FC were kicked out already in the quarter-finals by mighty [sic] Penapolense (who were beating Santos in the other semi-finals with 30 minutes to the final whistle). There’s room for many in the rocky boat.

Page turned. Palmeiras now have an eminent task ahead: eliminate Vilhena from the Brazil Cup this coming Wednesday. A draw is enough, as Palmeiras won the away game 0-1.

After that, all efforts should be put into releasing Alan Kardec from his contract with Benfica. And either sign a new contract with Wesley or sell him. The debts from his purchase during the previous administration is reportedly what’s holding back the signing of a Master sponsor (which would be the governmental bank “Caixa Econômica Federal“, or just “Caixa” for short).

In parallel, time for some soul-searching. Maintaining Kleina is crucial; we needn’t be shown once more that hotshot coaches fail as everybody else have failed at Palmeiras recently. Kleina and the directors need to re-evaluate the squad, dismiss a few players and find options on the market for key positions, especially a top forward and a right-back. It’s all about hard work, entering the Brazilian Championship in mid April in the right mindset.

We’ll be fine. Accidents happen. Although they have been happening more frequently than we would wish at Palmeiras.

Short on the game against Vilhena: Palmeiras have no less than eight players in the medical department: Wendel, França, Fernando Prass, Valdivia, Alan Kardec, Bruno César and Juninho. Possibly also Wesley. Thus, Palmeiras tomorrow will look very different. Not that Vilhena should stand a fighting chance. But hey, what was that again on the topic of “obligations”?

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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27 February. Vinícius receives deep on the left flank and crosses with ease to Valdivia, who calmly closes the scorecard 2-0 against São Bernardo.

4 March. Free kick against Portuguesa, just short of the penalty box. The set piece works beautifully as Wesley rolls the ball to Juninho, stuffing the net with a powerful left-foot finish.

9 March. Mendieta spins and delivers a precise pass for a charging William Matheus on the left flank to open up the scorecard. In the second half, Vinícius advances on the left, leaving three defenders behind, before providing Miguel with the assisting pass. Shortly before the final whistle, Mazinho goes deep to the left before passing the ball, leaving Patrick Vieira in position to secure the three points.

Coincidence or not: Palmeiras’ last five goals have all originated from the left or from a left-positioned player. The four goals from the last two games are available below, while Valdivia’s you’ll find in this post.
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Coach Gilson Kleina is promoting a generous carrousel, using the Paulistão to really alternate players, try out different formations and rest the most important pieces without losing site of the importance of finishing on top: in little more than two weeks we move into the quarter-finals and finishing position in the group stage determines who gets home advantage. Beating Ponte Preta upcoming Saturday leaves the way for an interesting last round as currently tied Palmeiras and Santos clash against each other for ultimate supremacy – a draw benefiting Santos due to better goal difference.
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There are however other priorities already this week, as Palmeiras travel to the city of Vilhena (state of Rondônia) for a first appearance in this year’s edition of the Brazil Cup. Kleina is calling up his strongest starting eleven, wanting to take no chances on this one: a victory by a margin of two or more goals eliminates the need for a second leg, providing the squad with an entire week for rest and training. Thus, expect Valdivia, Kardec, Leandro, Lúcio and Wesley on the pitch, in addition to a possible return of centre-back Wellington from the medical department.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!
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* And with this, Anything Palmeiras reaches 500 posts, exactly on its 4th birthday.

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pep_ap.
Leading sporting goods supplier Adidas, responsible for all of Palmeiras’ match and training gear, has invited Palmeiras to participate in an exchange: coach Kleina was asked which other Adidas-sponsored team, in Europe, he would like to visit. He picked Bayern Munich, current champions of the European Champions League and the FIFA Club World Cup. Kleina is keen to learn more about the working methods adopted by Pep Guardiola, as well as the philosophy and overall approach that has boosted German football as a whole in the last few years. In exchange, Kleina will offer insights on the current trends in South American and Brazilian football, as well as working methods at Palmeiras.

Today Gilson Kleina spoke about the offer for the first time, expressing his excitement regarding the opportunity to see the work of the Spaniard up close, even though dates are yet to be decided upon.

“Adidas came to me, said they liked the work being developed here [at Palmeiras]. It will be an exchange of information. I chose Bayern due to German football currently developing different strategies.” the coach explained to a radio station.

Is this happening now because of the centenary, as a little treat? Perhaps. Or it might have been in Adidas’ mind for some time, only now materialising. Or it might be another example of how the Nobre administration, in just one year, has managed to “upgrade” Palmeiras in the eyes of the World. Your pick.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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kleina2013.
It took a long, torturous month. On 26 October, Palmeiras had secured ascension. Yesterday night, negotiations between coach Gilson Kleina and Palmeiras regarding the renewal of his contract were finally concluded. And signed today. 12 more months.

Many a name had been whispered in the corridors and some journalists even dared to confirm that this or that person was the chosen one, had a verbal agreement. Vanderlei Luxemburgo, Osvaldo de Oliveira, Abel Braga, Caio Júnior, Vágner Mancini… If any of these were de facto approached by Palmeiras, we might never know. What we do know is that among directors of Palmeiras, there were a preference toward renewing with Kleina, but also that there were others who felt a heavy-hitter needed to me signed for the job. Perhaps due to this, talks were initiated with Argentine Marcelo Bielsa, but as previously commented on this space, the asking price by Bielsa was a non-starter.

Thus, back to Kleina. A man who did what was expected of him this season, nothing less nothing more. A man who believes in his potential. A man who wants recognition. More autonomy. And a salary raise.

On the other side of the table, Palmeiras, in need of a good coach but unwilling to pay what the Brazilian market (or the international, for that sake) today stipulates. Paulo Nobre with a firm idea that a shift of paradigm is needed. That performance and results must have a greater impact on remuneration. Today, the logic is reverted: coaches sign monstrous contracts, receive additional bonuses if they win, collect salary normally if they lose and collect bucketloads of fines and compensations if they end up fired.

Frankly speaking: Kleina is no one’s first choice. Then again, he’s probably nobody’s last choice either. For Palmeiras, settling for middle-of-the-road is obviously not what we’re used to, but the giant has only started to recover. Today, this is our reality. And let’s face it: there are a lot of coaches in the Série A that come with a much heftier price tag and that I’d prefer not stepping at the Palestra at all. When taking into account that Kleina knows the squad by now and also has its overall support, the choice starts making even more sense. The tough part certainly was convincing Kleina about this, make him understand that the offer made wasn’t aimed at downgrading him personally, but the implementation of a new policy. Crucial was convincing him that he will receive the support and the reinforcements necessary to go after the objectives given to him by the directors.

With a coach in place, the reformulation of the squad can finally take place. Many names are being mentioned, but here at Anything Palmeiras we avoid speculation: we’ll comment when contracts are being signed or when there’s something truly concrete to write home about.

What if everything goes wrong from the start? What if the São Paulo championship in early 2014 reveals a helplessly lost Kleina? Well, if Palmeiras fires Kleina, the information we have is that the new contract stipulates a maximum financial compensation of three monthly salaries (i.e. 3 x R$ 200K), subject to suspension in the case of Kleina going to another club. Fairly reasonable, I’d say. At least nothing that prevents Palmeiras from swapping coach if bad comes to worse.

Gilson Kleina is our coach. All support to him, and the best of luck. Full attention directed toward the renovation of the squad and the announcement of a new Master Sponsor (when?!?).

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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comemoracao-palmeiras-marceloprado2.
Yesterday, Palmeiras convincingly beat Ceará 4-1 (goals by Eguren – his first, Charles, Alan Kardec and Leandro), severely reducing the chances of the opponent to finish the season in the top four. Chapecoense are already there and Sport, due to yesterday’s away victory over Boa Esporte, idem.  Thus, only one spot remains before the final round, with three teams on equal score: Figueirense, Icasa and Ceará. Last of the three, only Ceará plays at home, but against difficult seventh-placed Joinville. Also, Ceará are two victories short in comparison to Figueirense and Icasa. I believe Figueirense are able to bag three points against uninterested Bragantino and secure ascension, regardless of Icasa beating Paraná or not.

Before yesterday’s game, Palmeiras’ directors resumed talks with coach Kleina, presenting a slightly improved offer: instead of his current R$ 300K/month (roughly US$ 130K) he’s been offered R$ 180K in addition to hefty bonuses if achieving pre-set goals (i.e. win titles). In order to reach these goals, Nobre has promised Kleina several reinforcements. And apparently, Nobre intends to implement the same model (lower salaries, attractive bonuses) on newly arriving players and on those in the process of renegotiating their expiring contracts. That second group consists of no less than 13 players, including Patrick Vieira and Mazinho, who are returning from Japan, as the second division season in the land of the rising sun yesterday came to an end.

“Where I come from, this is common practice”, explains club president Paulo Nobre. “Above all, it’s a question of dividing responsibilities. Today, everybody benefits when the club wins, but only the club carries the burdens of defeat.” Nobre is aware that the model will be challenged, not least due to the risk of Palmeiras losing players to rivalling teams that are ready to pay more. Still, he’s convinced that it’s the best way to administer things in the long run.

Coach Kleina seemed very sceptical at first, even offended, but a change of mind can now be detected. “Who knows… This is a new concept. One needs to look into this, understand how it works” he told reporters after yesterday’s game. Also Nobre seem again confident the club will reach an agreement with Kleina. Chances seem fairly good a new contract will be signed in the meeting scheduled for coming Tuesday.

— ooo —

While Palmeiras lifted a trophy, Anything Palmeiras didn’t: the LFC Fans Corner blog – a Liverpool FC blog run by ten lads spread throughout the World – proved too hard a nut to crack, receiving the “Best Football Club Blog” award in the 2013 FBAs. Our sincere congratulations to the winners.

THANK YOU all palmeirenses who voted: even though we didn’t muster the bi-championship, in one way or the other we contributed to place Palmeiras on the map.

— ooo —

As of this week, the documentary “Santo Marcos” go up on screens for those lucky enough to be in São Paulo, Ribeirão Preto, Campinas, Londrina or Maringá (last two in the state of Paraná). For now, the rest of us can nothing but watch the official trailer, over and over again.
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Almost a footnote: next Saturday afternoon Palmeiras make the season’s last appearance against Chapecoense, in the state of Santa Catarina.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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