Brazil coach Tite (right) and assistant coach Cleiton Xavier during their World Cup match against Croatia.
More than two decades since their last World Cup triumph and without a local consensus pick, Brazil are considering breaking an unwritten taboo – hiring a foreign coach.
After six years in the job, Tite left the Brazil post in December following the Selecao’s World Cup quarter-final exit against Croatia.
Despite knowing for some time before the Qatar showpiece that Tite was leaving, Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) president Ednaldo Rodrigues still has not found a replacement.
Now he is widening his search. “We have no nationality prejudices,” he said earlier in January.
“We want it to be a respected coach who can bring a level of play worthy of the athletes. We want to do what Brazil have always tried to do – to be very attacking.”
Apart from England, who hired Swede Sven-Goran Eriksson and Fabio Capello of Italy in the 2000s, almost no other major footballing nation has had a foreign coach in decades.
Brazil’s World Cup drought – stretching back to their dazzling triumph in 2002 with a three-pronged attack comprised of Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Rivaldo – has forced the record five-time world champions to cast the net farther afield. There are potential Brazilian candidates, but none have garnered widespread support.
“We have good quality, but before we used to produce more coaches than now,” Luiz Felipe Scolari, the 2002 title-winning coach, said recently.
“The new generation… haven’t won enough trophies.”
The Brazilian press have been proposing numerous possible foreign candidates – Spaniards Pep Guardiola and Luis Enrique, Italy’s Carlo Ancelotti, Frenchman Zinedine Zidane, Jose Mourinho of Portugal and even Argentinians Marcelo Gallardo and Mauricio Pochettino.
Manchester City’s Guardiola and Ancelotti of Real Madrid have both ruled themselves out, although the former did say a couple of years ago that he fancied leading a national team when he leaves the English champions.
“Since the end of last year, I think I’ve heard 26 names. We will go after some of them,” said Rodrigues, who hopes to have the new man in place by March.
But it is not easy hiring a world-class coach when top European clubs can pay such inflated wages and offer the chance to compete for the Champions League or national titles.
It is also not easy to convince Brazilian fans to accept a “gringo” in charge of the Selecao.
A poll in December found 48 per cent were against the idea, with only 41 per cent in favour.
“In Brazil there is one idea – we have the best football in the world, so we don’t need a foreign coach telling us how to play,” said historian and editor of sports website Ludopedio, Victor Figols.
“Us, who know how to develop great players, who in part created dribbling, the way to play the Beautiful Game.”