The man Chelsea want as their next manager, Pep Guardiola, has emerged as the Brazilian Football Confederation’s preferred candidate to coach the national team at the World Cup in 2014, following the sacking of Mano Menezes last week.
Brazil face a fierce challenge on their hands if they want to convince Guardiola to resist a number of potential job offers in Europe to take over as their national coach. The Brazilian daily sports newspaper Lance! reported last week that the Brazil job was the only one Guardiola ‘would take tomorrow’, according to an unnamed confidant of the former Barcelona coach.
A number of teams are keen to make Guardiola their next coach, with Silvio Berlusconi admitting AC Milan’s interest last week, whilst Chelsea fired Roberto di Matteo and appointed Rafa Benitez in his place on a short term deal due to owner Roman Abramovich’s desire to lure his man at the end of the current season.
According to reports in the Brazilian media on Monday morning, including Lance!, Guardiola heads a list drawn up by the CBF which also includes Corinthians coach Tite and Fluminense’s Abel Braga. Tite guided Corinthians to the Copa Libertadores title for the first time in their history this year, and may be available after he has coached them at the Club World Cup in December. Braga has just guided Rio de Janeiro giants Fluminense to their second Brazilian title in three years.
Also in the frame for the post is Luiz Felipe Scolari, the former Portugal and Chelsea coach who guided Brazil to victory at the 2002 World Cup. At a recent game with Argentina, Brazilian fans called for Scolari’s return as national coach. Scolari also took the reins two years before the 2002 triumph, replacing Vanderlei Luxemburgo, another name reportedly on the CBF shortlist, although he has since ended speculation by signing a new deal with Gremio, whom he has guided into the Copa Libertadores. However, Scolari is now out of work after being fired just months after winning the Copa do Brasil with Palmeiras, who have just been relegated.
Menezes was sacked as Brazil coach last week after they had beaten Argentina in the so called ‘Super Classico of the Americas’. It was curious timing, as the victory continued an extremely impressive run of form for Brazil since their shock defeat in the final of the Olympic Games tournament to Mexico. Brazil, who have never won Olympic gold, went into the tournament with huge pressure to win, and it would have been more logical for Menezes to have been fired at that point. The former Corinthians coach could also have left his post last year, after a disastrous Copa America where Brazil lost to Paraguay in the quarter finals.
The decision to fire Menezes is also the first major act of José Maria Marin, who became the head of the CBF earlier this year after his controversial predecessor Ricardo Teixeira, the son in law of former FIFA President João Havelange, was forced out of the role as well as the position at the head of the World Cup organising committee.
Menezes’ replacement will be confirmed in January, although the appointment of a foreign coach would cause some dissent from those who believe the job should go to a Brazilian. Muricy Ramalho, the Santos coach who guided his team to the Copa Libertadores title last year, has said the job should not go to a foreigner, whilst national team director Andrés Sanchez believes that a Brazilian will become the next coach. Sanchez, the former President of Corinthians, may increase Tite’s chances, although he also reportedly opposed the decision to fire Menezes.