RIO DE JANEIRO – Brazil soccer legend Zico says coach Luiz Felipe Scolari must be replaced if his country is to move past its disappointing World Cup performance.
“We should thank him (Scolari) and thank (assistant coach Carlos Alberto) Parriera too. But we need to choose new people with new thoughts about how to play the Brazilian way,” the three-time World Cup veteran said Thursday, just two days after Brazil’s humiliating 7-1 semifinal loss to Germany.
Zico said Sao Paulo coach Muricy Ramalho would be an ideal candidate to lead Brazil.
“He is one the greatest champions of the Brazilian league, which is one of the hardest in the world to win,” Zico said.
Ramalho was reportedly offered the national job in 2010, but amid some confusion with his then-club Fluminense, he turned the position down. He is known as a progressive coach, defined by tactical flexibility.
“We had no alternatives,” Zico said of Brazil’s tactical approach to this World Cup. “They stayed focused entirely on the success of the 2013 Confederations Cup. They kept the same formation and the same team. Everyone had a year to work out exactly how to play against Brazil.”
Often referred to as the “white Pele,” Zico represented Brazil at the 1978, 1982 and 1986 World Cups. He scored 52 goals in his 10-year international career.
While his 1982 World Cup squad is considered by many Brazilians to be the nation’s finest ever, Zico acknowledged that Scolari was not blessed with the same caliber of talent.
“If you look at the starting players in the last year, none of them were key players at their clubs,” he said. “Look at Neymar, the best player in Brazil, but how many times was he on the bench for Barcelona last season? Fred, Marcelo, Hulk all played inconsistently. Even David Luiz and Oscar, you can’t say they were first choices at Chelsea.”
Zico said Brazil’s problems run deeper than just a current dearth of talent, blaming poor administration, a lack of structure and a vacuum of leadership for the loss of the traditional “Brazilian style.”
Former Barcelona and current Bayern Munich coach Pep “Guardiola has always said his style, his approach was inspired by the Brazilian national team, but now we don’t have that style,” he said. “(Johan) Cruyff has said we are not playing true Brazilian football. (Jose) Mourinho has said it doesn’t seem like we know how to use our talent to play true football. I don’t know why we don’t listen to these great minds of football.”
Keeping the country’s brightest talent playing in the Brazilian league is a critical first step to recovery of Brazilian soccer, Zico said.
“The CBF (Brazilian football federation) needs to invite the heads of all the clubs in Brazil to a private meeting and ask them what they need to make sure the big names, the best players, play every Sunday in Brazil instead of in Europe.”
Arsenal lands Sanchez
Chile striker Alexis Sanchez has ended his three-year stint at Barcelona by joining Arsenal for a reported fee of £35 million ($60 million), adding some much-needed firepower to the English Premier League side.
Arsenal said on Thursday that the 25-year-old Sanchez, who impressed in Chile’s run to the last 16 of the World Cup in Brazil, has signed a “long-term” contract.