Mano Menezes had a good history on his back as well. Taking Grêmio in 2005 after the club’s relegation, he had the mission to bring the team back to its deserved position. The play-off match which brought Grêmio back to First Division was known as Batalha dos Aflitos and gained some attention from international media. In a game against Náutico where Grêmio lost 4 players with red cards and had 2 penalties against the team, Mano’s squad managed to grab a 1-0 win with an Anderson (now at Manchester United) goal.
In 2007, Mano led Grêmio to a Copa Libertadores final, losing to Boca Juniors in a 5-0 loss in the aggregate scoreboard. He left Grêmio at the end of 2007 to manage Corinthians, which had been relegated just like Grêmio. Mano brought Corinthians back to First Division as well, also with records of points scored, goal difference and only 3 losses in the campaign. In the next season, he brought a Brazilian Cup and a state championship to the team, earning a Copa Libertadores spot for 2010.
Even though Corinthians went through the group stages with a perfect campaign, winning all 6 matches, it fell to Flamengo in the round of 16. They had a good recovery, as the team was trailing Fluminense in the league, battling point by point. But many felt this decision as the wrong one to take.
Pundits in the media condemned CBF for sticking to a Brazilian coach when most of them are at decline or too bold to be working with a NT as big as Brazil. The international market had better options at the time. Marcelo Bielsa was a name favoured by name, as well as Pep Guardiola, who had previously said how fond he was towards the Brazilian squad. But stubbornness doesn’t cure itself, and CBF stick to Mano Menezes. Unsurprisingly, when Andrés Sanchez left his position as Corinthians president, he was called by Ricardo Teixeira to become Director of NT Squads.
Mano never had much backup within the media or the CBF itself. Only his players, for natural reasons, defended him. He often puts players out of position, and goes for a rigid approach. Roaming wasn’t encouraged even when the team was trailing in the scoreboard, and holding the result was always a must. Even in meaningless friendlies, like one against Bosnia and Herzegovina earlier this year, Mano made a substitution in the end of the game to slow tempo and let the time run.
The Copa América campaign, ended by 4 atrocious missed penalty kicks from Brazil, and the run of friendlies never gave Mano a solid team. He’s been with the team for 2 years, but still hasn’t found the team’s core aside from Thiago Silva at defense and Neymar trying to get something on attack. Only after a national clamour and a stupid André Santos error in a friendly against Germany that Mano decided to call Marcelo again to join the NT, even though he’s arguably one of the best left-backs in the world.
His calls also raise many questions, as he preferred players who were under his agent’s books. That’s the case for Lucas Leiva, from Liverpool, and André Santos, who went from Fenerbahçe to Arsenal probably due to his call ups to join the Brazilian NT.
Mano’s destiny would be decided by the Olympics results. Even though some of the strongest contenders, such as Uruguay and Spain, failed to make a great impression at the competition, Brazil failed to claim one of the country’s most wanted titles by losing to Mexico in a poor fashion. José Maria Marin, current CBF president, said that even though he lost the title, Brazil’s “good cameos” and the hurry that a new coach would have to bring at least a competitive side for the World Cup impeded Mano’s dismissal.
And in part 5: Previous Brazilian stars and the lone one.