There’s little question that Brazilian managers are held to unreasonably high standards. Fans of Brazilian clubs have high expectations for their sides, and a run of poor form can be enough to doom any manager in the Brasileirão. However, even by Brazil’s lofty standards, São Paulo’s firing of manager Doriva after just 7 matches in charge is insanity.
The club announced Monday that Doriva had been fired, and Milton Cruz would be named caretaker for the remainder of the season. This is the third time this season that a manger has been dismissed or left São Paulo. Muricy Ramalho was let go near the start of the Brasileirão, and Juan Carlos Osorio, his replacement, left the team last month to become the new coach of the Mexican national team.
Perhaps most surprising about the decision is the fact that São Paulo are just 1 point out of fourth place, which would qualify them for next season’s Copa Libertadores. On top of that, if Santos go on to defeat Palmeiras and win the Copa do Brasil, fifth place in the league will also most likely become a Libertadores qualification spot.
While Doriva’s results weren’t particularily good, he finished with 2 wins, 1 draw, and 4 losses in 7 matches, the change still seems unfair to the man who left a rather strong Ponte Preta side, only to be cast aside after a little more than a month.
On top of the turmoil on the bench, São Paulo are also facing difficulties in their front office. Just under a month ago, president Carlos Miguel Aidar resigned his position amid allegations of corruption in relation to alleged mishandling of transfer fees and money from the team’s new deal with Under Armour.
While the prospects on the pitch still have potential this season, São Paulo are well and truly in the thick of the Libertadores race, with the team struggling for money, the side could lose a number of important players this off-season.
Goalkeeper Rogério Ceni has said that he will retire this December (as an aside, don’t rule out Ceni as the next manager of São Paulo, stranger things have happened and the man is undoubtedly a club legend), and winger Alexandre Pato will also leave the club, set to finally be sold by parent club Corinthians at a price São Paulo cannot afford.
While Luis Fabiano spends the majority of matches wandering offside nowadays, he can still be a dangerous goalscorer, but will also leave the club at the expiration of his contract. Midfielder Rodrigo Caio was on the verge of leaving this June for Valencia, but the move collapsed after a failed physical. Don’t be shocked to see Rodrigo Caio leave this January instead, after displaying fine form in recent weeks.
With all of the expected losses, turmoil in the front office, and a lack of cash with which to sign up to par replacement players, even if they do make next season’s Libertadores, São Paulo could be in bad shape. Whoever São Paulo’s next manager is had best be wary, it could be difficult to have success next season, and management has shown that they have no issue firing a coach at the slightest hint of a poor turn in form.
Much like Palmeiras last season and Cruzeiro this season, São Paulo may have to slog through a disappointing mid-table finish next campaign in an attempt to rebuild. If that’s the case, expect the pressure on both management and players to increase greatly. It could be a long upcoming year for the Tricolor Paulista.