How Tite salved Sele­cao wounds

Move over Ney­mar – it’s no longer all about you. New boss Tite has re­built the Sele­cao af­ter their 2014 pain and is prov­ing to be Brazil’s real star

FourFourTwo - - CONTENTS - In­ter­view Felipe Rocha

Ev­ery Brazil­ian knows where they were on the evening of July 8, 2014. “I was at my flat in Sao Paulo with my wife,” says Tite, the man who will lead the five-time World Cup win­ners at this sum­mer’s fi­nals in Rus­sia. “What did I feel? A mix­ture of con­ster­na­tion and sad­ness. My wife was cry­ing. She looked at me and asked, ‘What is go­ing on?’ I told her that I didn’t know.” To be clear, this wasn’t the day of some hor­rific nat­u­ral dis­as­ter or mas­sive civil un­rest. “When Ger­many scored all of those goals in such a short pe­riod of time, she burst into tears,” re­veals Tite. “That was very emo­tional for me.” Re­cov­er­ing from the 7-1 thrash­ing to Ger­many in the semi-fi­nals of their own World Cup has not been easy for Brazil as a team or na­tion, but in Tite they ap­pear to have found the man to heal those wounds. Hav­ing re­placed Dunga as Sele­cao man­ager in June 2016, Tite – full name, Ade­nor Leonardo Bac­chi – has put the smiles back on the faces of not only Brazil’s fans, but also the play­ers.

Hav­ing strug­gled in the early stages of their qual­i­fi­ca­tion cam­paign for this sum­mer’s tour­na­ment, Brazil were a team rein­vig­o­rated un­der the for­mer Gremio, In­ter­na­cional and Corinthi­ans boss. Eight straight wins helped the Sele­cao seal a spot at Rus­sia 2018 be­fore any coun­try other than the hosts them­selves. Just when it looked like Brazil could be on the ropes, the new coach has got his charges play­ing with the kind of swag­ger that has made them a must-watch side at so many World Cups over the years.

“Tite built a very solid tac­ti­cal struc­ture, so we had pos­i­tive re­sults quickly and re­gained con­fi­dence,” Brazil and In­ter de­fender Mi­randa told FFT last month. “He knows how to get the best from ev­ery player. He’s a charis­matic man and ev­ery­body gets on with him. Some­times a man­ager has only 11 friends in the squad, but even the play­ers who are on the bench like Tite.”

If Brazil’s boss can guide his coun­try to a sixth World Cup tri­umph, he will find him­self with even more new friends. And his wife might be a bit hap­pier, too... How does it feel to be the Brazil coach go­ing into a World Cup? It’s hard to de­scribe how proud I am to lead my coun­try at the World Cup. It’s a huge re­spon­si­bil­ity, and I’m aware of how this com­pe­ti­tion in­ter­feres with the mood and pride of the Brazil­ian peo­ple. But at the same time, it’s a dream come true.

You were al­most given the job be­fore Dunga’s re­turn in 2014. Was it frus­trat­ing to miss out then? Very much so. I can’t deny that I was ex­pect­ing an of­fer, based on my solid work at club level. Every­one in Brazil was say­ing I would be the cho­sen one. I couldn’t go out on the streets – peo­ple would come and say, ‘It’s your time, we want you!’ Just af­ter the 2014 World Cup there was some in­ter­est from the Ja­panese na­tional team, but I didn’t want to ne­go­ti­ate with Ja­pan as I was still wait­ing for Brazil. But that’s life. I suf­fered for a cou­ple of days when Brazil took the de­ci­sion, and then I got back to Corinthi­ans and helped the team win the league, play­ing beau­ti­ful foot­ball. I didn’t know it then, but stay­ing at Corinthi­ans for a bit longer was great for my de­vel­op­ment.

Brazil were sixth in South Amer­ica’s World Cup qual­i­fy­ing group when you took over. How did you turn things around? Qual­i­fy­ing in South Amer­ica is very tough but I had an­other dif­fi­culty, rein­vent­ing my­self as a na­tional team man­ager, which is com­pletely dif­fer­ent to manag­ing a club side. I had to learn quickly, so I talked to many col­leagues to learn about their ex­pe­ri­ences. Last but not least, I had to bring the con­fi­dence back into our squad.

As­sess­ing it as a man­ager, what did Brazil do so hor­ri­bly wrong in the 7-1 de­feat to Ger­many four years ago? It’s not pos­si­ble to dis­so­ci­ate coach and man. I would re­peat to you what I told my wife back then: I don’t know. It’s eas­ier to as­sess things from out­side and point out things that could have been done dif­fer­ently, but we don’t know the re­al­ity of that mo­ment and all of the dif­fi­cul­ties they were fac­ing. I have only one cer­tainty about it: any per­son who de­fines one or two rea­sons for that re­sult has a re­ally low ca­pa­bil­ity to un­der­stand the

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