SAO PAULO, Brazil - Brazilian players can be seen in key roles at almost every major league match in Spain, England, Germany and Italy, but that success has yet to be tasted by the country's managers, who have failed to make as big an impact from the dugout.
Of the 16 managers in this month's Champions League knock-out stage, three are from South America but none are from Brazil.
While various South Americans have made the grade in Europe, only two Brazilians have taken charge of the continent's top flight clubs in recent times, with Vanderlei Luxemburgo lasting 11 months at Real Madrid in 2005 and Luiz Felipe Scolari fired after eight months in charge of Chelsea in 2008.
There are a plethora of reasons behind Brazil's lack of success on Europe's sidelines, including the language barrier, a domestic culture that is emotional and hierarchical, a market that offers managers big salaries at home and an exaggerated rhythm of hiring and firing that makes it difficult for coaches to develop skills. "Brazilian coaches were never really invited to work in Europe," Paulo Autuori, a two-time Copa Libertadores winner with Cruzeiro and Sao Paulo, told Reuters. "The last two, Felipao and Vanderlei, were considered top of the line here in Brazil but they didn't work out. "People always say that Brazilian coaches aren't good enough, that it's the players who come out of Brazil that are top class, not the managers."
Another issue concerns formal qualifications. In Brazil, coaches need no training and few go to Europe to get the badges that are now seen as a requirement at all but the least ambitious clubs.
The Brazilian Association of Football Coaches recently reformulated its coaching courses to introduce four levels of badges and thus help local coaches broach the European market, said Fernando Pires, one of the association's directors.
They have already held courses at Levels 1 and 2, and will hold Level 3 at the end of this year and Level 4 in 2015, once they have enough qualified candidates. "We need to help our coaches be better prepared to get jobs in Europe," said Pires, a former player in Brazil and Portugal.
Brazilian football was also far too insular with almost no managers hired from outside Brazil, let alone the rest of the world, Pires said. That means players, many of whom go on to become managers, lack tactical awareness. "I played in Portugal and there were always foreign managers there with their different schools of thought," he said. "Even though Brazil has won the World Cup five times, we haven't kept up with tactical developments elsewhere because we are very closed. We were never worried about learning from others because we were so good."
Pires pointed to embarrassing defeats at international level.
Two of the last three Libertadores champions were humiliated when they went to the World Club Cup, with Santos getting hammered 4-0 by Barcelona in 2011 and Atletico Mineiro not even making the final against Bayern Munich last December after losing 3-1 to Raja Casablanca. "It is not a coincidence," Autuori added. "If you look at these games the opponents were better. In the past when Brazil had so many great players, we could flummox other teams and throw them off balance. "We were unpredictable and that doesn't happen much anymore."
Brazilian managers also command a wage that all but the top European clubs can afford and few entertain the idea of leaving a big Brazilian club to join a second-tier one elsewhere. "I think it is has a lot to do with the fact that Brazilian clubs pay well," said Marcos Paqueta, a former manager of Flamengo, Fluminense and the Saudi Arabia national team, who is now working in the United Arab Emirates, one place where Brazilian managers can cash in. "Managers tend to stay in Brazil because they earn more."
The language barrier is another key issue. Few Brazilian managers speak Spanish or Italian, much less English, and the inability to communicate with players was cited as part of the reason Luxemburgo and Scolari failed in Spain and England.
Another reason is that Brazilian managers are more motivators than coaches.
Many managers fulfil a father figure role - Scolari famously won the World Cup as head of the celebrated "Scolari family" - but player power means that attitude no longer works in Europe. "If you went into the dressing room at Real Madrid and appealed to emotion, the players would laugh at you," columnist Renato Mauricio Prado said on Fox Sports recently.
HIRE AND FIRE
Perhaps a greater reason is stability. Brazilian clubs hire and fire managers at will, with some clubs using up to half a dozen managers in the one season.
Although the situation has improved slightly in recent years, three defeats in a row still spells crisis in Brazil and few managers spend more than a year at one club.
That made it hard for them to grow technically or develop their own style, or styles, of play, said Autuori. "It's a tactical orgy here in Brazil," he said in a telephone interview. "A manager plays four at the back one week and plays that way until he loses. Then he shifts to three central defenders and it stays that way for a few weeks. When he loses he changes things again. Coaches don't have time, they just want to survive. "People are always saying Brazilian coaches need to modernise their tactics," the Atletico Mineiro manager added. "And that's a fair criticism."
To make matters worse, Brazilian coaches rarely get involved in the signing of players, long-term planning, or the day-to-day running of the club.
Paqueta said that those restrictions force them to concentrate solely on tactics.
He disagreed with Autuori, however, and believed the daily challenges faced by Brazilian managers made them more rounded.
Tite, who guided Corinthians to World Club Cup success over Chelsea in 2012, was one such example, he said. "In Brazil you have to work with what you have, so you are at the mercy of the players that are there," he said. "There are a lot more variables at work in Brazil, from the travel to the climate to the philosophy. I think Brazilians managers are prepared to work at any level."
Nevertheless, big European clubs are clearly reluctant to hand over the reins to coaches without managerial and administrative experience.
They were also suspicious of men who came from a culture in which the manager was God and brooked no opposition, said Manuel da Lupa, who hired and fired dozens of coaches during nine years as president of Portuguesa. "Brazilian managers need to be more flexible," da Lupa added. "Coaches dealing with the likes of (Lionel) Messi, or Cristiano Ronaldo or (Zlatan) Ibrahimovic, they need to get inside their heads. Brazilian managers are more authoritarian."