Muricy Ramalho axed by Palmeiras
After a little more than six months in the job, Muricy Ramalho has been shown the door by Palmeiras. The chop came after Wednesday’s 4-1 humiliation at home to São Caetano. The decision surprised the football world in Brazil as most pundits were predicting that the coach would hang on at least until Sunday’s derby meeting with São Paulo. But in truth, Ramalho was always living on borrowed time after Palmeiras failed to qualify for the Libertadores last year.
Within hours of his sacking on Thursday – and just to rub salt into the wounds, Palmeiras announced that his replacement would be Antônio Carlos Zago – the man who had presided over São Caetano’s emphatic win.
On Wednesday night, Palmeiras and their coach were being booed off the field after an insipid (some might say rather suspect) performance against a below average team.
Back in July last year, the coach’s arrival at the club was greeted with a great deal of enthusiasm. Having just led São Paulo to three consecutive Campeonato Brasileiro titles, he got off to a bad start in 2009 and was unceremoniously fired by the Morumbi club. After weeks of wrangling, he signed for Palmeiras who were already in a strong position in the league and playing some great football thanks to caretaker coach, Jorginho (now at Goiás). Almost immediately, Palmeiras were top of the league and stayed there for 19 rounds in a row. Inexplicably, the Greens lost their nerve; a five point lead at the top disappeared and Palmeiras ended up collapsing during the run in. Not only did they throw away the title with just four games to go, Palmeiras also failed to finish in the top four and were out of the Libertadores places.
The disappointment felt by the club and the fans was profound. Last year, Palmeiras were red hot favourites to win their first Brasileiro since 1994. The reason for this optimism was the heavy investment provided by sports management group, Traffic, who had financed the signings of players such as Diego Souza, Cleiton Xavier, Danilo, and later Obina and Vágner Love.
This year though has been a very different story. After Palmeiras failed to make the Libertadores, the plug was pulled on the cash. As a result, three first team strikers (Vágner Love, Obina and the underrated Ortigoza) were allowed to leave. None were replaced. Solid squad players such as Marcão, Sandro Silva, Jumar and Willians also went.
Without the money from their backers, 2010’s signings have been on the modest side. Edinho ex Lecce, Eduardo ex Guarani, Léo (a loan swap for Maurício who went to Grêmio), Márcio Araújo ex Atlético Mineiro, and Lincoln (just signed from Galatasaray) are the only players to have arrived at the Palestra Itália this season.
With Palmeiras struggling in midtable, it was obvious to all and sundry that the club needed some weighty reinforcements. Promises were made by the club President and directors but no one arrived. But when the results don’t come, the first man in the firing line is always the coach and Ramalho paid the price for the club’s failure to replace the players they let go.
With no real money coming in, the fact that Ramalho was also earning a small fortune (by Brazilian standards) may have also contributed to his downfall.
Whilst I’ve never been a fan of Ramalho and never hidden my dislike of the overly defensive and deadly dull football that I’ve had to endure over the past few seasons (see: How Ramalho is killing the game), for once I feel a little sorry for the coach. No doubt Ramalho will be back in work soon and in all likelihood will get his revenge on Palmeiras before too long. Muricy Ramalho’s record at Palmeiras: 21/7/09 – 18/2/10 (34 games, 13 wins, 11 draws, 10 defeats)
As for Palmeiras, the kneejerk reaction to recruit Antônio Carlos Zago – a man who has next to no experience as a coach – seems as big a mistake as not giving Jorginho the job last year. Zago was a ‘no-nonsense’ centreback in his days at clubs such as Santos, Besiktas and Roma but his time at Corinthians as a technical director and a short spell as São Caetano’s coach, will not have prepared him for life at the Palestra Itália. Zago’s first game in charge will be the derby against archenemies São Paulo on Sunday. I wish him well.
You’ll be able to see how Zago and Palmeiras get on as we’ve got the game live from the Palestra Itália (17:00 local time).