The final frontier
There will be disappointment in Brazilian coaching circles that Luiz Felipe Scolari has been deemed to have failed at Chelsea. Many over here were hoping that he would do well - and that this would open doors for other Brazilian coaches to cross the Atlantic.
Establishing themselves with the major European clubs is the frontier that Brazilian coaches have so far not been able to crack.
They start off with an obvious disadvantage - the quality of Brazil's players. When the national team wins the World Cup, the stars get all the credit. When they lose the coach gets the bulk of the blame.
This, as Ray Wilkins would put it, is a tad harsh.
Tactics and organisation have been a key part of Brazil's successes. In a low scoring game like football, winning sides cannot afford to give cheap goals away.
Brazilian coaches have continually striven to find a balance between attack and defence. They invented the back four - and then understood that its implementation needed at least one of the wingers to drop back and help out in midfield.
Moreover, the privilege of counting on the best players is one that Brazilian club coaches no longer enjoy. The stars are all in Europe. Consequently, the figure of the coach has become increasingly decisive in the domestic game. In the absence of breathtaking individual talent, the collective vision of the coach can tip the balance.
Europe has seen and suffered from this development. In the final of the 2005 Club World Cup, Sao Paulo beat Liverpool. A year later Internacional overcame Barcelona. Both times the Brazilian sides were heavily outgunned. But they fought from a trench, frustrated their opponents and broke out to score a single goal, in tactical triumphs, respectively, for coaches Paulo Autori and Abel Braga.
But for all their attributes, there is one thing that the Brazilian coaches have yet to show they can do - work with the multi-national, multi-cultural squads of today's top European clubs. There is nothing at home to prepare them for such an experience.
But even these players, from neighbouring countries, are classed as "gringos". In Brazil the unfortunate word is a blanket term for all foreigners. Its very existence is a negation of the diversity that Scolari had to deal with at Chelsea.
Scolari has excelled as a coach who forms and motivates groups. In the short time-span given to him (and I'm astonished that he was sacked before the knock out phase of the Champions League), he clearly found it hard to do this using a second language to bind together a multi-national squad.
Especially damaging was his inability to get the best out of Didier Drogba, such an important player in the previous regimes.
Perhaps his father figure act did not go down well in new surroundings. National team boss Dunga has been known to criticize Brazilian coaches for their excessive paternalism, but it is an obvious card to play in a country obsessed with the figure of the absent father.
In the 2002 World Cup Big Phil was the undisputed head of what was called "the Scolari family". In England, as Brazilian midfielder Rodrigo noted after working with David Moyles at Everton, coach-player relations are more professional than paternalistic.
Perhaps, too, Scolari did himself no favours with his transfer targets. He pined for Robinho, and brought in Deco, Bosingwa, Quaresma - even Mineiro, an honest Brazilian midfielder, but one well into his 30s who had been shown the door by German football.
This reliance on favourites and compatriots sends all the wrong signals. It is a recipe for cliques and comes across as an unwillingness to embrace the big, wide world.
And so Scolari moans that his Chelsea team were not "Brazilian" enough - a consideration which never bothered him in the slightest when he was making his name in the mid-90s with a rugged and functional Gremio side. Perhaps the problem was that he wasn't cosmopolitan enough.
But his CV still makes impressive reading. Seven months down the road, he may now be better equipped to coach in the Premier League than when he first landed at Stamford Bridge. If Scolari can learn he lessons of his time at Chelsea, then he may yet have the European club success that finally opens the doors for his colleagues back home.
Comments on this piece on the space below. Other questions on South American football to email@example.com, and I'll pick out a couple for next week.
From last week's postbag:
Last summer AC Milan, the club I support, talked about bringing in Hernanes from Sao Paulo. I know very little about him, other than he has made only one appearance for the national team. Does he have a future at Milan or even in Europe?
I think he has a huge future - I'm just back from watching him set up a goal with a Fabregas-style pass in the big local derby against Corinthians.
Very talented all round midfielder, strikes the ball wonderfully well on either foot, mobile and versatile - there's no one better in Brazilian football at the moment.
He's 23, and time to leave is approaching. For all his many virtues, when he came up against Argentina's Fernando Gago in the Olympics the comparison was not at all flattering - an excellent illustration that football is not just technique, it's also ideas.
In technical terms, you might rate Hernanes higher - he's better on his left foot. But Gago, who's a bit younger, looked the more mature player in his choice of options - when to pass long or short, when to sit and when to link up with the attack. Hernanes had some moments, Gago had the match.
Sao Paulo are a pragmatic, no frills side, and very successful with it. Coach Muricy Ramalho is on record as saying that he doesn't like possession football. So there's a limit to what Hernanes can do there. I can see him playing the Pirlo role with Milan, or slotting very nicely into the midfield at Barcelona, (who were also interested) where Guardiola, a magnificent player in his day, would have a lot to teach him.
I recently heard Cruzeiro's young Brazilian striker Guilherme has moved to Ukraine to play for Dynamo Kiev for $4m, can you please tell how highly rated he is in Brazil and by you and is this the right move for him or has he just moved for the money.
Is he good enough to one day play in England or Spain and be a mainstay in the Brazilian national team. Will this move hinder his development?
Another player I like a lot - stocky support striker with the rare gift of vision - he sees the killer pass and has the ability to deliver it.
I'm disappointed with the move, especially as Cruzeiro are in the Libertadores this year (South America's Champions League, their first game is this week) and I don't think there's anything better he could have done for the first half of the year rather than staying for that, and then maybe moving in the summer.
Cruzeiro were also negotiating with Zaragoza in Spain, which might have been better for him, but he does have real talent, so let's hope Kiev works out for him.