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In less than an hour, Wesley’s contract with Palmeiras expires. As the clock strikes midnight, the Verdão can finally leave one of the club’s greatest acquisition fiascos behind. Both player and São Paulo F.C. deny it, but Wesley is joining Kardec over at the enemy’s . Good for him. And potentially good for Palmeiras, if Wesley only creates half as much trouble over there as he did at Palmeiras.

Wesley came at an absurd price tag, brought in by then club president Tirone after a pathetic attempt at crowd funding. Well, Conrado Cacace has done the math and estimates that Wesley – after three years and 103 games in our jersey – cost Palmeiras some US$ 118.000 a game; that number includes transfer fees, fines, interest rent due to unpaid parcels and salaries. The sum would be mind boggling even if talking about an actual ace, someone making all the difference on and off the pitch. But we’re talking Wesley: the unmotivated, rotten and blasé excuse for a professional footballer.

To say that supporters will not miss him is quite the understatement: a website has been up since the beginning of the week, counting down the  days, hours and second to his dismissal.
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Wesley02.
I would assume Wesley speaks at least some German after having spent a couple of years at Werder Bremen. Well, he’s not getting any “auf wiedersehen” from me: the last thing I want is to see him again.

Off you go.

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Today, Palmeiras’ new football manager was officially announced: Alexandre Mattos has signed a two-year agreement and will be the main responsible for assembling a squad, and hopefully a winning one, as he did in Cruzeiro 2013-2014.

During the brief press conference starting at noon, Mattos stressed that it was an honour to work at Palmeiras and that he would do just that – work hard and relentlessly – aiming for championship titles. He stated several times that Palmeiras were on the right track in terms of planning and financial responsibility, and that his mission was to bring in the best players he possibly could without sidestepping the Nobre administration’s guiding principles of not spending above revenues and offer contracts based on performance.

As of now, Mattos will personally scout and initiate (in some cases even carry on, I suspect) negotiations with a few names of star quality.

Not only Mattos started working today, but so did the whole squad. Well, “whole” as a manner of speaking: the near relegation in 2014 has provoked rather dramatic change to the squad and 21 players were not present at today’s regrouping, including eight players who are still under contract but will train separately while waiting to be placed in other team. This group of eight consist of goalkeepers Bruno and Raphael, right-back Weldinho, defensive midfielders Bruno and Wesley, and offensive midfielders Felipe Menezes and Mazinho. Wesley’s destiny is certain – São Paulo FC – but as Wesley has another few months to his contract and Palmeiras and SPFC have so far been unable to reach an agreement, Wesley stays put, training separately. I’d suggest feeding him Coca Cola and burgers for the remainder of his time at the Verdão.

robinhoTwo other players under contract have already been placed in other clubs: keeper Deola at Fortaleza and defensive midfielder Bruno Dybal at Japanese club Ventforet Kofu. In addition, just now, news reach us that midfielders Mazinho and Patrick Vieira will transfer to Curitiba, on a one-year loan, as part of Palmeiras’ purchase of playmaker Robinho – one of the most accurate passers in 2014. To get their hands on 50% of the 27-year-old’s economic and federative rights, Palmeiras , in addition to the two players, chip in a little over US$ 1 million. Good stuff.

Then there’s Lúcio. The veteran centre-back is negotiating his transfer to a Chinese club, which definitively is the best solution for everyone.

A few players did not see their contracts renewed in 2015: right-back Wendel, left-back Juninho, centre-back Victorino, defensive midfielders Eguren, Washington and Marcelo Oliveira, offensive midfielders Bernardo, Bruno Cesar and Fernandinho and strikers Henrique and Diogo.

Yes, that brings the total up to 21.

On the other hand, a few Palmeiras player on loan to other clubs in 2014 have returned and one of two might get a shot: right-back Ayrton, centre-back Luiz Gustavo, defensive midfielder John Denoni, offensive midfielder Tiago Real, and forwards Maikon Leite and Vinicius. In addition to these, defensive midfielder Lucas Morelatto and playmaker Julen have joined in from the youth academy, while centre-back Thiago Martins and left-back Matteus Muller recover in the medical department. Also from the youth academy we’ll have right-back João Pedro and centre-back Nathan, but they are currently serving the U20 national team and will only be available to Oswaldo de Oliveira in early February.  

We have the eight newly signed players:  from Botafogo, right-back Lucas and defensive midfielder Gabriel; from Flamengo, left-back João Paulo; from América/MG, centre-back Vitor Hugo and defensive midfielder Andrei Girotto; from Goiás, defensive midfielder Amaral; from Grêmio, midfielder Zé Roberto; and from Chapecoense, forward Leandro Pereira. Well, it’s now nine if we include Robinho.

Today’s activity included a bit of jogging, a chat with coach Oswaldo, and medical exams. The training will step up as of Friday. On 1 February we have Palmeiras’ debut in this year’s edition of the São Paulo championship, away against Grêmio Osasco Audax

Below, the complete list composing the 33 players present today:

Goalkeepers: Fernando Prass, Jailson, Fábio and Vinicius
Wing-backs: Lucas, Ayrton, Victor Luis and João Paulo
Centre-backs: Tobio, Vitor Hugo, Wellington and Gabriel Dias
Defensive midfielders: Luiz Gustavo, Renato, Amaral, Gabriel, João Denoni, Andrei Girotto and Lucas Morelatto
Offensive midfielders: Zé Roberto, Valdivia, Mendieta, Patrick Vieira, Allione, Tiago Real and Julen
Forwards: Cristaldo, Mouche, Rodolfo, Leandro, Maikon Leite, Vinicius and Leandro Pereira

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Ricardo Gareca
“We may be criticised for decisions, but never for omission” Palmeiras president Paulo Nobre said when justifying the dismissal of medium-to-long term coach Ricardo Gareca. The renowned Argentine professional did not last three months at the Verdão, the club resorting back to the classical, Brazilian modus operandi described in a recent post: fire the coach.

True, Gareca wasn’t delivering. Or rather: Palmeiras, under Gareca, were not delivering. Gareca is partially to blame, as he was constantly testing players and line-ups (13 games, 13 starting elevens) and wouldn’t forgo his philosophy of always playing offensively, even when his limited squad was facing stronger adversaries.

That being said, Gareca’s failure must at large be attributed to Paulo Nobre, once again poorly making the bed we’re now all forced to sleep in. He kept Kleina much too long, taking Gareca on board – and players he requested – when most other teams in the Brasileirão were already tuned. He brought in a foreigner – who naturally would need more time to adapt – when there was little time available. He envisioned a medium-to-long term project – with the squad already partially cracking up due to the disastrous Kardec affair and growing influence from a few, spoiled fruit – when firm and urgent action was needed both from him and the new coach to arrive. In short: Gareca might possibly have been the right choice for Palmeiras, but he definitely arrived at the wrong time.

Palmeirenses kept the faith in a turnaround, including yours truly. Gareca enjoyed massive support – and respect – from the stands, all the way to his dismissal and beyond. Truly remarkable for a coach who delivered so little, at least in terms of points.

Anything Palmeiras wishes Ricardo Gareca the best of luck.

— ooo —

Dorival Júnior
wpid-dorival.jpgThis morning, Palmeiras announced their new coach: Dorival Júnior. Dorival is a former Palmeiras player, having pulled on the jersey 157 times for the club between 1989 and 1992. He also happens to be the nephew of legendary Palmeiras midfielder Dudu.

Dorival was runner-up as Kleina’s replacement earlier this year. As a coach, his previous clubs include Cruzeiro, Santos, Atlético Mineiro, Internacional and Flamengo. Palmeiras’ new coach has but one important national title on his curriculum: the Brazil Cup of 2010, with Santos.

wpid-dorival_int.pngDorival’s 2013 record of accomplishment does not still any nerves: he left Vasco da Gama in the relegation zone and worked the same magic with Fluminense (although he couldn’t really be blamed as he only took Fluminense on for the last five rounds, winning three games and drawing one).

So far, in 2014, 52-year-old Dorival has been, well, taking it rather easy. Studying football. Including apparently spending some time at Chelsea F.C. Hope he’s relaxed, confident and ready for what’s to come at Palmeiras.

— ooo —

Wesley
The midfielder is free to sing a pre-contract. Although denied by the player and his staff, rumour has it that’s what he’s done. With SPFC. Can’t say I’m bothered. Especially not as Wesley isn’t cheap and has been underperforming, on and off the pitch, for some time. If fruit can be performative, that is.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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dark-tunnel.
Palmeiras lost fair and square to Atlético Mineiro, the scorecard reading 2-1 at fulltime. An open game, with both teams pursuing the three points. It would actually have been a pleasant game, had it not been for the festival of errors: some 100 passes didn’t find the right destination. Pleasant, had it not been for the eight straight game without victory in the Brasileirão. And the apparent low gears of Leandro, Wesley… The absurd limitations of Josimar, Menezes… You know the script.
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The Verdão are 1 point from the relegation zone after 14 rounds. Have not won a game in the Brazilian championship since the post World Cup retake. Obviously, Palmeiras haven’t got the best of squads, but it’s still, on paper, far from the worst. Many more humble squads are doing better. We need answers, and quickly, in order to avoid the disaster of all disasters in this year of the centenary.

The rumble is not only affecting players, but players have started creating their own. Something’s cooking involving Wesley, Leandro, Deola… Especially Wesley – considered a central piece and a good player – has been underperforming for quite some time. The locker room was apparently very tense after yesterday’s game. His contract is about to be renewed. Or is it? I seriously don’t know what to hope for, but based on my gut feeling, it might be best if he walked.

There’s also rumble on president Paulo Nobre’s doorstep. Literally. As these lines are being written. Palmeiras’ largest supporter group – the Mancha Alviverde – are positioned outside Nobre’s house. Two busloads and then some. A peaceful protest; at least that’s the order. But pressure is rising, no doubt.

In the meantime, mixed expectations in regard to Sunday’s derby against São Paulo. A victory is fundamentally important. Palmeiras should have Valdivia back in the starting eleven – or at least on the bench. If papers from Ukrainian side Metalist arrive tomorrow, Cristaldo will sign a four-year contract, make his debut in the second half and score the winning goal for Palmeiras.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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wesley.
Not much to say concerning the derby. It was an ugly game. Uninspiring. Two teams with little creativity but where Palmeiras, deservedly, drew the shorter straw. Third straight loss for Gareca in the Brasileirão.

This coming Wednesday an – excuse me now – utterly worthless game against Italian side Fiorentina in this “EuroAmerican Cup”. The cup is a competition between Europe and the Americas, where each victory awards a point to a continent. Europe is currently winning 4-1, as Monaco (France) first beat Junior Barranquilla and then Atlético Nacional (both from Colombia); Fiorentina beat Argentinian side Estudiantes; Alianza Lima (Peru) beat Valencia (Spain) on penalties, and Atlético de Madrid beat San Jose Earthquakes also on penalties. As the tournament progresses, we have another four games:

29/07: Universidad Católica (Chile) x Valencia (Spain)
30/07: América (Mexico) x Atlético de Madrid (Spain)
30/07: Palmeiras (Brazil x Fiorentina (Italy)
02/08: Universitário (Peru) x Fiorentina (Italy)

Thus, “Europe” needs just one more victory the secure the title. Isn’t it exciting?

Agustín Allione has signed a five-year contract with Palmeiras. He comes to urgently remedy Palmeiras’ lack of creativity on the midfield and is expected to occupy the right flank while Wesley drops to the left. Wesley – who has been ridiculous to watch the last three, four months – will hopefully react positively with an inspiring and talented player by his side. If not, it’s good-bye: his contract is soon ending and his paycheck is over the top, especially considering his recent contributions.

Palmeiras are negotiating with a handful of other players, but we need to see some signatures sooner than later, giving Gareca time to integrate the new elements and make Palmeiras competitive for the remainder of the season. With Palmeiras occupying 13th place in the tables but only three points from the relegation zone, nobody should be needing a wake-up call.

Sorry for today’s lame post.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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Palmeiras are “flying low”, as one would say in Portuguese: nine victories and one draw in the last ten rounds of the Brasileirão, with five straight wins, the last two against Paraná and, yesterday, Joinville.

Paraná proved a hard nut, as expected, but before a 30.000 strong crowd at the Pacaembu, Palmeiras were able to turn the tables even after suffering an early own goal. Paraná have the so far strongest defence in the division, and naturally closed up even further after the goal. In the second half, Palmeiras turned the pressure up and dismantled Paraná piece by piece. Valdivia and especially Wesley shone.
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An amusing storm in a water glass followed, as SporTV journalist André Rizek fumed over Valdivia’s not only obvious but explicit and successful strategy to receive a third booking: Valdivia had been called up for the Chilean national squad and took the opportunity to clean his sheet as he thus wouldn’t be at coach Kleina’s disposal for the following game against Joinville. Rizek practically begged the laughable Supreme Sports Tribunal (STJD) to look into the case, he himself conveniently overlooking the fact that what Valdivia did has been done since the dawning of football. Curious how certain things turn big only because Palmeiras are involved; can’t remember Rizek opening his mouth last year when Corinthians coach Tite confirmed that he had ordered Paulinho to do exactly the same trickster manoeuvre.

In the end, Valdivia didn’t play for the national team: he was diagnosed with muscular fatigue and ordered a rest by the Chilean doctor. Most likely he won’t face Paysandu later this week, only returning for the Brazil Cup game against Atlético Paranaense next week, if properly recovered. Fingers crossed: Mendieta was taken off the pitch yesterday after a blow to the thigh and Palmeiras need at least one of the two in good shape for next week’s important appointment.

— ooo —

Yesterday, in the state of Santa Catarina and mostly under rain, Palmeiras beat Joinville 1-0. It wasn’t that much to write home about, but again, Wesley proved important on the pitch and, as soon as he walked off it, reconfirmed how satisfied he is at Palmeiras, that he wishes to stay but that his future’s in God’s hands. The quite massive campaigning online (there’s even a website calling for Wesley’s stay), Wesley’s own statements and the player’s growing tactical and technical importance for the team might prove enough for Palmeiras to dismiss a loan proposal from Atlético Mineiro for the remainder of the year that reportedly includes salaries and some US$ 2.6 million. Remembering that Palmeiras only consider letting a player of Wesley’s calibre go due to the still very strained financial reality of the club: the Nobre administration is yet to announce a major sponsor and costs are cut wherever they can be found.

— ooo —

Speaking of the Nobre administration: on twitter Anything Palmeiras launched a very modest poll a few days back with the intention to roughly verify a hypothesis: that the personal profile (or life philosophy, if you so which) of those most fiercely opposing the Nobre administration primarily reflects a day-by-day approach, persons who are impulsive and seek to maximise gains. On the other hand, Nobre supporters would be the opposite: at large careful planners who seek to minimise risks.

The poll was a resounding failure. 45% of votes were cast on the “live to the max, support Nobre” option; 50% on the “plan carefully, support Nobre” option; and 5% on the “live to the max, don’t support Nobre” option. No votes were cast for the “plan carefully, don’t support Nobre” option. In other words: the support for Nobre was equally divided between the impulsive and the planners. And, which is worse: only Nobre supporters bothered to answer the poll.

— ooo —

BufferWorld celebrity Bruce Buffer was recently in Brazil launching his book: a take on the backstage of the UFC mixed martial arts circus. A buffer fan took the opportunity to hand him a gift: a retro Palmeiras jersey. Buffer seemed delighted and expressed his appreciation for Brazilian women and now, also, for Palmeiras. Welcome to the family, Bruce. Before you know it, you’ll be shouting…

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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São Caetano 1-2 Palmeiras
“Waiting for Godot” has for palmeirenses turned into “Waiting for Eguren”: when everything seemed set for his appearance in the starting eleven, Kleina in the last minute opted for a 4-3-3 with Mendieta, Wesley and Highlander Araújo on the midfield and Leandro, Kardec and Ananias up front. An offensive line-up, especially in an away game. Too offensive. São Caetano counter-attacked mercilessly, taking full advantage of the available spaces on the flanks. We went to halftime behind on the scorecard.

Kleina could swap some pieces or improve positioning. He chose the latter, and to perfection: Palmeiras came on steamrolling all over the Azulão and had turned the game around within 15 minutes after a true golaco by Kardec and a point blank volley shot by captain Henrique. For most of the remainder, Palmeiras exercised control of the game. With the fresh three points, Palmeiras maintained their grip on the top of the tables; important as also Chapecoense, Sport and Figueirense won their games.
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Brazil Cup 2013 draw
Yesterday afternoon, the Brazilian Football Federation drew the second phase fixture of the Brazil Cup 2013. Palmeiras could have ended up in an easier group, but the taste of victory will be even sweeter: our first opponent are Atlético Paranaense – the same Atlético that Palmeiras have kicked out of the Copa do Brasil on three previous occasions, namely 1992, 2010 and 2012. Our first game is at home, in roughly two weeks’ time.

If Palmeiras proceed to the quarter-finals, Salgueiro or – more likely – Internacional await end of October. Semi-finals and finals only in November. Check out the complete fixtures below.
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The courting of our players

With the international transfer window closed and most players in the league already summing seven or more games for their clubs – an impediment for them to play for any other club in the same division – rivals in the first division are turning their attention to Palmeiras for possible reinforcements. The media play along, when not shamefully instigating rumours in order to sell more “news”.

Valdivia_Treino_WertherSantanaEstadao_292This morning, Valdivia was linked to Flamengo, although the carioca club director openly stated that they did not have the funds to yank the midfielder from Palmeiras or pay his high salaries. On live television, Valdivia, very much at ease, explained he was happy at the Verdão and wouldn’t mind ending his career there. Based on his current form, that’s one hell of a promise; considering his average performance and cost/benefit, one hell of a threat. Time will tell.

WesWith Valdivia soon being less than news, attention in the afternoon had already turned to Wesley, who apparently – at least if one of Brazilian most influential football magazines should be trusted – is well on his way to Atlético Mineiro. The midfielder, who finally has recovered his fine football after a serious knee injury, would be lent to the Libertadores Cup champions in order to further alleviate Palmeiras’ strained finances. I don’t believe a word of it. Don’t want to, either. Not saying it can’t be true, not saying Palmeiras might not have received an offer. But there’s an ocean between receiving an offer and accepting it. Until facts are on the table, I shrug it off.

We must all get used to the courting, treat it as something normal and, in fact, good: it’s an indicator of success, of quality, of Palmeiras going in the right direction. We supporters should refrain from reacting to rumours, demanding explanations or positions from players, managers or directors. We must learn and constantly remind ourselves: it’s not a fact because it’s in the papers. Especially not when the topic is football, players and transfers.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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