Mano Speaks On Hulk And Other Notes
Note: I originally wrote this article a week ago, before it had already been discussed here on the Blog. So it’s out of date now, but at least you guys will get a new thread to post in. Thanks to Duvel for taking time out of his schedule to post my stuff while the admins work on getting me set up with my own account.
Mano finally breaks his silence on Hulk, Hernanes and Marcelo…
And makes us think that maybe he shouldn’t have opened his mouth at all.
I’ll put a big, fat disclaimer in the beginning of this article so that there is no deception: after the World Cup, when it was obvious Dunga was about to get axed, there were a lot of names tossed about, names of men who could be his replacement. Some people wanted Scolari back; others wanted Muricy Ramalho. Some people wanted to give Zico a chance; others said Leonardo was the man. Everyone agreed that resurrecting Tele Santana’s corpse would be the most attractive option, but no one could agree just how exactly that should be done.
I wanted Mano Menezes.
There, I said it! It’s in the open. It was me. Boy, does that feel good to get off my chest.
Most of you probably know it already, of course, but there’s open secrets and then there’s open confessions, and it’s been too long since my last one.
There’s still time for Mano to prove me wrong (or rather, right) but things don’t look good. We all agreed that he seemed like a genius after the USA match. After all, he called up Neymar, Ganso and Pato, right? What a stroke of inspiration! Who else had thought of such a thing?
Well, everybody, but never mind.
We all started getting a little uneasy after the Iran and Ukraine friendlies. Sure, Brazil won, and easily, but it wasn’t as pretty, and more importantly there were a lot of strange names called and even stranger names left off. I myself first really started having doubts after the Argentina match. His refusal to call up a single real striker to replace the injured Pato was just baffling. His decision to play a 4-3-3 with a front line that consisted of three nominal left-wingers in Neymar, Robinho and Ronaldinho struck me as, frankly, idiotic. Some of his tactical decisions both before and during the match left me pulling my hair.
It’s only gotten worse from there. After persistently ignoring players like Hulk (36 goals and 21 assists this season) and Hernanes (possibly the best midfielder in Serie A this year; almost singlehandedly kept Lazio in title-contention for several months) and Marcelo (dude, he has an afro), he finally called them up for the France friendly. Hernanes got sent off after mistaking Karim Benzema’s head for a football, but Hulk only saw about 3 minutes on the pitch, and Marcelo never got on at all.
Mano clearly was frustrated by their respective performances, as he never called them up again. Never mind the fact that Hulk only saw three minutes and still had the best chance to score of the entire match. Never mind the fact that Marcelo never even saw the pitch. Never mind the fact that Benzema’s head really does kind of look like a football.
In any case, he never called them. And for months, he has refused to really explain why. Until now.
Like me, Mano too felt compelled to make a confession. But I refuse to absolve him. All of you who can read Portuguese, feel free to read the article. Those who can’t, I’ll do my best to sum up what it says, though everyone should keep in mind that I’m really not the best at translating. Feel free to disagree with my interpretation in your comments below; hopefully Dude or someone can come along and be a little more definitive.
We’ll take each player one by one.
There’s been some speculation that Marcelo’s exclusion may have had to do with his attitude, or from clashing with Mano. It appears there may have been some truth to that. Mano claims that in training prior to the France game, Marcelo collided with Renato Augusto and began to suffer back pain. Marcelo begged off playing, probably at the urging of his club, Real Madrid. The only problem is, Mano didn’t believe Marcelo was actually hurt.
According to Mano, in the past there have been players who have refused international duty for various reasons relating to their clubs. This was certainly something Dunga had to deal with in his first year, and as Mano implies, it’s a frustrating thing for a manager. I can sympathize. He wanted to put a stop to that kind of thing now so that it doesn’t become a problem later. Brazilians put the National team above everything else, and so should the players. If players find excuses not to play, they shouldn’t be allowed to only when it becomes convenient for them. I agree…in principle.
The problem is, in Marcelo’s case, that this was a friendly. He wasn’t refusing to go to the Copa America or the Olympics or the Confederations Cup. It was a friendly right before the most important part of the season. Marcelo shouldn’t have risked playing, not when Madrid was in contention for the Copa Del Rey and La Liga and the Champions League. If it was earlier in the season, sure, maybe. If it was a more meaningful match, then yes, definitely. But it wasn’t. Mano’s hard-line stance (again, if I’m translating correctly) is unjust and unfair.
Mano did say that the door would still be open in the future, however Marcelo would need a change of attitude if he expected a second call-up.
Mano’s reasoning for Marcelo was wrong but probably at least semi-understandable. But I’m having a really hard time understanding his reasoning with Hernanes.
Mano starts off well, with the following quote: “I have some defects. But I’m not wrong and I’m not dumb. It would be irresponsible not to bring back to the squad a player just because he got a red card.”
That’s something, at least. But Mano goes on. His original view of Hernanes, as some have guessed, was that he was strictly to be used as part of a “double-pivot;” that is, as a defensive-midfielder. Hernanes played such a role in Brazil, though even there I saw him more as a creative presence; a deep-lying playmaker akin to a Pirlo or a Xabi Alonso. (In fact, I’ve called several times for him to be used in a such a role.) But Mano admited that he’s had to change this view in light of Hernanes’ time at Lazio, where he’s deployed as a CAM – central attacking midfielder.
So what’s the problem? Lazio play with a 4-3-1-2, according to Mano, who says, “[the] system used in Italy, with three behind the attack, he fits. But I will not make the Brazilian team that way.”
So…the problem is Lazio plays with three defensive midfielders? Hernanes can play as the AM in a 4-3-1-2 but not a 4-2-3-1? Granted, the systems are different, but the role of the the classic #10 in both cases is the same, both in style and in position. Does Mano just have a completely different conception of tactics than I do? Does he have any conception of tactics at all? Am I interpreting him wrong? What am I missing here? And this is after he praises Hernanes as a a powerful, dynamic player with good movement and good finishing ability!
Saving the best for last, Mano very predictably says the least. Mano does not see him as a centre-forward, because he plays on the right wing for Porto.
How many problems can you find with this statement? First of all, where is it written a player can only play one position? Is Mano truly so narrowminded? Is he aware that ducks cannot only swim, but fly as well?
It’s true! Similarly, just because a player plays one way for one team doesn’t mean he can’t play a different way for another. It’s a revolutionary, innovative concept, I’ll grant you…in the 1940s.
But even if it was true, even if Hulk only could play on the right wing, Mano specifically states this puts him in conflict with Robinho.
Look, I really like Robinho. Despite his flaws, I have always been a fan of his. But there’s just no way you can claim Robinho is better than Hulk. None. Even if Serie A is a better league than Portugal, Hulk has over twice the goals and five times the assists. It’s really no contest.
And even if he wasn’t better than Robinho, Mano is aware that’s what a bench is for, right?
That even if Hulk doesn’t start, at the very least he could be a reserve? No, Mano’s hollow excuses don’t ring true. Whatever the reason for Hulk’s omission, it’s got nothing to do with his position and it’s got nothing to do with his performance and it’s got nothing to do with his league.
So there you have it. Three star players, all capable of playing positions Brazil desperately needs, all three extremely exciting to watch, and all three left home. Ladies and gentlemen, your manager, Mano Menezes!
I expect this will be the last word I have to say on the matter. What’s done is done, and all that’s left is to look forward. But we wanted an explanation and we got one…and now all that’s left to wonder is what follies Mano will commit next.
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