There are still three rounds of games to be played in the Campeonato Brasileiro before the half way stage in the competition is reached and eleven of the twenty clubs have already changed their managers since the start of the season.
This staggeringly high rate of hiring and firing will perhaps increase further before the season is out. The most recent appointment was made at Grêmio who after a disappointing start to their campaign have called upon the services of Celso Roth who returns to the club for the fourth time. Naturally the success of these changes is dependent on the club and the abilities of the new manager at the helm along with external factors such as luck but the logic behind some of the decisions is extremely questionable.
As with the rest of the football world clubs are predominately concerned with their immediate future and short termism takes precedence. However managerial merry go round in Brazil is exceptional in the pace that managers come and go. Corinthians who currently lead the table are under the command of Tite. He only took on the role last year and amazingly is now one of the longest serving managers in the top tier of Brazilian football.
The slow start Santos made in the league was to be expected. The Libertadores campaign was naturally prioritized which meant the line up their sent out in the first few games was a pale imitation of the first team. The strategy of resting players paid off as they were crowned champions in June. However they have not been able to kick on in the league as predicted and make up ground on the leaders.
They were involved in the match of the season a couple of weeks ago when they lost 5 4 against a Ronaldinho inspired Flamengo side. Had Elano converted a penalty the game would have ended up a freakishly high scoring draw. Perhaps the highlight of the game though was the goal Neymar scored after a skillful dribble that left numerous defenders in his wake.
It is the form of Ganso however that is perhaps the most worrying for Santos supporters. His return to domestic action after a tepid performance in the Copa America for the seleção has been particularly low key. Indeed his coach, Muricy has talked about the player needing to modify his game alittle and make it more difficult for the opposition to mark him. By getting in more advanced positions he will be able to add to the three goals he has scored in 2011.
Santos are four months away from jetting off to Japan to dispute the World club championship where potentially they will take on Barcelona. The need is to put a good run to together and start to make some progress up the table.
They are currently just one place off the relegation but in a league that is unbelievably tight, a couple of consecutive victories can launch a team several places higher in the standings. Corinthians recent inability to convert draws into wins has meant they have not been able to create any distance between themselves and the chasing pack. This group of clubs is made up of Flamengo, São Paulo and Vasco.
However Santos have played two games less than their rivals at the top and if there are able to gain maximum points from these fixtures they will be 13 points behind Corinthians. Winning the league from this position would take a monumental effort and the chances are low. That said, the Libertadores champions will surely perform much better in the second half of the season and aim to finish in the top six.
© Paul Tobitt & Soccerphile.com
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