Brazil’s worst kept secret is finally out. São Paulo’s manager Juan Carlos Osorio will leave the club to become the next manager of the Mexican national team, according to multiple reports from Brazil. While much of the focus will be on Osorio’s destination, El Tri, the effect this decision will have on São Paulo will also be interesting to watch.
The decision is ill-timed for one of Brazil’s major sides, as São Paulo are fighting for an important top-4 spot in the Brasileirão, and also still alive in the semifinals of the Copa do Brasil. How the team responds to the departure of its manager will be crucial in determining São Paulo’s fate this season.
Unlike most managerial changes in Brazil, this change was not a dismissal. Osorio had been relatively successful with São Paulo, leading the club up the table and deep into the Copa do Brasil. While Osorio had his rough points, especially a 3-0 home loss to Goiás, he had turned the club around recently and had them fighting for a spot in next year’s Copa Libertadores.
The club has rumored interest in Diego Aguirre, the Uruguayan who managed Internacional to the semifinals of this year’s Libertadores. Aguirre would be a good hiring for the club, a rare foreign coach with previous experience, and success, in Brazilian football.
São Paulo could also choose to simply appoint a member of the current coaching staff to manage the team for the remainder of the year in an attempt to keep consistency in the side during such an important time, but early reports suggest that Aguirre is the frontrunner for the São Paulo job.
Regardless of the decision the club makes, it needs make one quickly, and it needs to make the right one. It is crucial that São Paulo qualifies for next year’s Libertadores, by either finishing in the top-4 of the Brasileirão or winning the Copa do Brasil.
There is enough talent, with Alexandre Pato up top, and the recent successes of Rogério on the wing, for São Paulo to make a run in either competition that ends with a spot in the Libertadores. Whoever the next manager is, whether it be Aguirre or otherwise, would be wise to change very little of the current setup that has been successful.
If São Paulo continue to play the way that they currently are, even with a new manager, the team should be headed to next year’s Libertadores.