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Dunga: The Old Is The New ‘New’ For Brazil

July 21, 2014
Dunga, season 2.

Dunga, take 2.

 

Dunga, Brazil’s 1994 grumpy Captain turned 2010 grumpy manager, is set to return to coach the Selecao and lead the 5-time World Champions to Russia 2018.

This absolutely conservative,  borderline suicidal move by the Brazilian FA (CBF) only reflects how Brazilian football, and Brazilian society, are managed: development and improvements are marked by spectacular regression.

The path towards 2018 will look a lot like the frustratingly pragmatic path towards 2010.

So much for the  “footballing revolution” that was promised following Brazil’s apocalyptic 1-7 defeat against the Germans at the 2014 World Cup semi-final.

Ironically, Dunga was appointed manager in 2006 because the Brazilian FA were looking for an inspirational Klinsmann-like figure. The whole of Brazil had been seduced by the many images of the superbly slick duo of managers Klinsmann and Low, dressed in well-fitted, white shirts, enthusiastically celebrating every German goal at the 2006 World Cup.

Carlos Parreira, Brazil’s manager at the time, was seen as a bit of a dry figure, a tad sad-faced and bureaucratic by nature. The cry was desperate, and the cry was for joy and passion to be infused back into the Brazilian squad after they were eliminated by France in the 2006 quarter-final.

So Dunga was brought in, without any coaching experience whatsoever.

To be fair, he did display passion and enthusiasm – and plenty of it – screaming his head off by the sidelines as though he had been scoring goals himself. And he was, in fact, rather successful in charge of Brazil: qualifying the team for 2010 at the top of the South American table, taking Brazil back to the no. 1 position in the FIFA rankings, and winning both the 2007 Copa America and the 2009 Confederations Cup.

But Dunga was never a good casting director. His favourite players were controversial names – Melo, Grafite, Josue and Elano were far from world class – and his temper and relationship with the public and the media were absolutely atrocious. Cranky, downright rude and just plain unpleasant, Dunga designed a Brazilian squad that was effective, defensively organized and highly physical, but also joyless, cold and distant from the warmth of the fans.

I have nothing but respect for Dunga’s ability to manage a team; he understands how football works and has highly competent organizational skills. However, he is not what the Selecao need, which is respect, hope and sincere fan support – and, above all: change.

But change is not really what the Brazilian FA is all about. Change means letting go of power; it means surrendering control.

Notoriously corrupt and Jurassic in mentality, the Brazilian FA will always choose to keep it in the family.

Dunga’s second spell in charge will create divisions, controversies and general doubt. He’ll select footballers that he needs, or thinks he needs, but not the ones that deserve to be there by virtue of their talent. He will create a team based on muscularity and strength, not beauty or the ability to surprise. In short, Brazil will continue to explore the extremes, lacking the balance they so desperately need.

If 2014 saw Luiz and Neymar hugging fans and generously taking photos with boys who would invade the pitch during Brazil’s open practices, the path towards 2018 will be a throwback to the 2007-2010 season of secret shenanigans and sheer stubbornness – with the media viewed as the enemy, and public opinion rendered pointless.

Indeed, as Parreira said in 1994, magic is dead.

The Brazilian FA have now officially embraced the idea of Brazil as a tough, bully-like, power-thirsty, humourless and overly athletic squad – as we saw during that quarter-final match against Colombia at the World Cup.

In happier days, back in 1982, Brazil’s Captain Socrates famously said that “beauty comes first, victory is secondary, what matters is joy”.

And let us not forget that Dunga deeply detests it when the media reminds us that everyone loves Brazil’s 1982 squad of “losers”, while no one cares about his exceptionally boring 1994 winning team.

So my advice to Brazil is this: stop trying to win.

Quit it.

Somehow, since 2002, that has been the sole goal: to win.

And the cost has been massive: Brazil’s football identity is in the gutter.

Winning is not worth it.

Winning for the sake of winning, whatever the cost, does not produce joy.

It creates powerful enemies. It creates an unhealthy, egocentric, self-righteous attitude that cares only about, well, winning.

That is a painfully childish, empty and ultimately disappointingly unrealistic way to lead any sort of project.

But, most of all, it’s just a stupid waste of time.

The Brazilian FA is just a stupid waste of time.

This Brazil is just a stupid waste of time.

Dunga is just a stupid, stupid waste of time.

It’s all so stupid.

 

RB.

 

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Football fan permalink
    July 22, 2014 4:37 pm

    Great, great piece.

    Despite all this, the brainless British media will talk about ‘Brazil’s beautiful game’ and ‘Samba football’ in the run-up to the next World Cup, then express shock as Dunga’s rugby team goes around hacking everyone again.

    Is there a chance that a bad Copa America (or two, there’s another in 2016) could get Dunga out?

    It seems that the true spirit of South American football is embodied only in whatever team Pekerman is coaching at the time.

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