Scolari must go




(Robin van Persie 3-pen, Daley Blind 16, Georginio Wijnaldum 90+1)

Hope and despair have always been easy bedfellows in Brazilian football.

The Selecao ignite the most polarising of passions here; anger and adulation, love and loathing, sometimes in the same match.

But they may not survive indifference.

Brazilians didn't care about their own countrymen yesterday morning (Singapore time). The yellow jersey is no longer the magnetic force it once was.

Brazil lost 3-0 in the third-place play-off to Dutch players with their foot on the ball, but their eye on the beaches.

Holland were present in body in Brasilia, but not in spirit. Brazil were not there at all.

The Germans didn't just end the hosts' resistance in the semi-final - they shattered the myth.

They tore down the curtain to reveal nothing more than wheezing automatons being mismanaged by an old man, out of touch with his own environment.

Luiz Felipe Scolari is devoted to his country's sporting cause and not prone to falling on his own sword. But, for the good of the game's future, he's got to go.


His archaic philosophy and tactical limitations were exposed throughout the tournament by Mexico, Colombia, Holland, and especially Germany.

His rabble-rousing, of which he is a past master, temporarily papered over the cracks as the hosts rode the wave of patriotic fervour to scrap through the group stages.

He has always prioritised his so-called "Familia Scolari", creating a siege mentality which peaked in the gritty, cynical clash against Colombia.

But it spilled over into something darker and uglier in the semi-final, with the squad focusing more on Neymar's bad back than Alfredo di Stefano's death, or the death of two Brazilians in the road collapse in the World Cup city of Belo Horizonte.

Any remaining sympathy for the hosts swiftly dissipated, as Scolari's "us against them" emotional approach backfired so spectacularly in their frenzied, disorganised shambles of a performance against Germany.


But Scolari's self-aggrandising tendencies might have been forgiven had he liberated the talent at his disposal, and allowed Brazil to attempt a passing resemblance of attractive football from to time.

The Selecao's reliance on defensive midfielders and the occasional burst of brilliance from Neymar was increasingly exposed as the tournament progressed, and then ruthlessly ridiculed by the Germans.

There is a popular theory in Brazil that Scolari is still tied to the conservative football principles of his childhood. Geography makes him inherently cautious.

He was raised in the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul, where conditions are much colder, almost European and the football style is at odds in the warmer climes of Sao Paulo and Rio, where footballers are raised in sweaty favelas and hot beaches.

The throbbing, addictive sunny samba beats of Zico's Flamengo and Pele's Santos didn't reach into the depths of Scolari's south. Rightly or wrongly, many Brazilians subscribe to this theory. Scolari has never had samba in his soul.

They want a younger coach, a relevant coach; someone not manacled to an outdated dependence upon defensive midfielders and uninspiring workhorses wearing No. 9 jerseys.

As the drab play-off drifted towards the inevitable Brazil defeat, few people cared.

The Brasilia Stadium was silent apart from the half-hearted booing.

Locals in cafes and bars gave up on the game at half-time and turned their backs to the screens.

Brazilians could hardly contain their indifference.

If hosting the World Cup is going to leave a positive legacy, then this insipid exit should mark the beginnings of a Brazilian football revolution; removing all impediments and obstacles to the Selecao's eventual resurrection.

The first one happens to be in the dugout.

This article was first published on July 14, 2014.
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