BBC BLOGS - Tim Vickery
« Previous | Main | Next »

Can European managers succeed in South America?

Post categories:

Tim Vickery | 07:18 UK time, Monday, 26 October 2009

"Would any South American nation," asks reader Craig Thompson, " consider appointing a European coach (specifically Italian), and would the coach succeed with a South American team?"

There are a few precedents here. Jack Greenwell from England took Peru to victory in the 1939 Copa America. More recently, Xavier Azkargorta from Spain qualified Bolivia for the 1994 World Cup. And at around the same time Dussan Draskovic from Montenegro played an important part in the early stages of Ecuador's rise.

Paraguay also give us some examples, especially relevant since the question specifically asked about Italians. Vessilio Bartoli was in charge of the national team in the 50s. He had previously enjoyed considerable success in domestic Paraguayan football, which was not true of the most recent case, that of Cesare Maldini, who parachuted in from Italy to take Paraguay to the 2002 World Cup.

This is an especially interesting example because Maldini's time in charge was emphatically not considered a success. He upset local sensibilities by getting the name of local clubs wrong, the players did not take to him - the whole experience illustrated how hard it can be for an outsider to walk in to such an environment.

South America is a million miles away from contemporary, cosmopolitan western Europe. Distances are vast, mass salaries are low, air travel is expensive. There has been little significant mass immigration to the continent in decades.

Ideas of nationality, then, tend to be relatively fixed. The national football team is a hugely important symbol of this identity. It represents the country in physical terms and also defends the national conception of how football should be played.

This, of course, also applies to the western European countries - but surely these days to a lesser extent. From the other side of the Atlantic I was amazed by how the English footballing public seemed willing to accept the ultra-cautious approach in major tournaments of Sven-Goran Eriksson.

It certainly wasn't the same "get it in there" English crowds I had grown up with. But then, as stated earlier, English football and society have gone through a process of cosmopolitanisation which changes ideas and identities.

South America has gone through no such process. A master group former like Luiz Felipe Scolari was not able to adapt his methods to a multi-national squad at Chelsea.

Going the other way, a European taking charge of a South American national team must get to grips with the dominant cultural identity in his new country.

This can be difficult even within South America. The great Argentine player, Jose Omar Pastoriza did an important job laying the groundwork for the recent rise of Venezuela.

But results only improved after he had been replaced by Venezuelan coaches more in tune with the idiosyncrasies of the players.

Ecuador found an interesting way round this problem. They made fabulous progress importing a series of Colombian coaches - Francisco Maturana, Hernan Dario Gomez and Luis Fernando Suarez.

It can be easier for a foreign coach to stand outside the fuedings between the two rival cities, Quito and Guayaquil, and Ecuador were able to do this while taking advantage of the experience their imported coaches had acquired with Colombia in the 1990s - and all this without major problems of cultural adaptation, since the two countries are neighbours and for a while were even part of the same nation.

But the normal movement of coaches in South America is northwards - from the continent's traditional big three, Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay, to those nations where the game caught on later.

Peru have had success with Brazilian coaches - Didi, Elba de Padua Lima (magnificently nicknamed 'Tim') and a recent attempt with Paulo Autori.

Uruguayans have gone all over. Anibal Ruiz took Paraguay to the last World Cup, and Sergio Markarian qualified them for 2002 before he was unwisely replaced by Cesare Maldini.

But it's Argentines who can crow at the moment, with Gerardo Martino qualifying Paraguay for next year's World Cup, and Marcelo Bielsa doing likewise with Chile.

paraguay595getty.jpg Colombia showed what they are capable of with a 2-0 win over Paraguay in Asuncion

The pair go way back. Bielsa's first senior job was in charge of Newells Old Boys in Argentina. Martino was the star midfielder. The relationship worked - both like to attack.
Martino has tried to carry this attacking approach to Paraguay.

I well recall his first competitive game in charge. Paraguay beat Colombia 5-0 in the 2007 Copa America, but Martino was not happy. It had been a counter-attacking triumph, but the coach had wanted his team to play high up the field and keep their opponents under pressure.

This tension promises to be interesting in the World Cup. Deep, dogged defence is part of the DNA of the Paraguayan national team, especially against physically stronger opponents. Martino has recognised the need for pragmatism, but he will still try to convince his team to take the initiative. It could be an uphill struggle.

Marcelo Bielsa is unlikely to face the same problem. His 3-3-1-3 system, with its two wingers and commitment to playing in the opponent's half, has gone down well in Chile.
Bielsa was previously in charge of his native Argentina, where even while his team sailed through the 2002 qualifiers his methods were always questioned.

For the traditional Argentine purists his team was too European. With its constant high tempo, there was no place for an old style foot-on-the-ball playmaker like Riquelme.
Chile has proved easier to win over. One of Chile's all-time greats, defender Elias Figueroa, once told me that in the past the national side "have tried to imitate Argentina. We've tried to imitate Brazil. We've tried to imitate Germany and Spain. There's been no continuity."

But it could well be that this lack of a defined identity, unusual in South America, has made it easier for Bielsa to implant his tactical model. It means there is less cultural resistance, no sense of betraying a deeply loved tradition. There was even a proposal to award Bielsa Chilean citizenship. It would not be appropriate. A fascinating, brooding obsessive, Bielsa owes his allegiance to the global community of football.

Comments on the piece in the space provided. Questions on South American football to, and I'll pick out a couple for next week.

From last week's postbag:

Q) I've noticed that Boca and especially River are struggling in the Argentinian Primera Division. Boca are currently 10th while River, having just won one out of their first nine games, are in 16th position. Can you give us some reasons for their poor results.
Terje Dahl

A) And they've just drawn 1-1 in the modestly entitled 'super-clasico,' not a result that does much good to either. I think River are mired in an institutional crisis. There seems to be something very wrong with the set-up there, with hooligans having a say in the running of the club and even (allegedly) a share in transfer revenues. None of the players seem to be making progress, and that's usually a sign of something wrong behind the scenes.

In Boca's case, I think a measure of instability is built into their model. They've had a lot of success producing players, keeping hold of them for a couple of years and then selling, and thus financing their squad. But there comes a time when you've sold key players, and the veterans are not quite what they were, and results suffer while the next group of youngsters are coming through.

Q) I recently went to watch the River v Independiente game in BA. The question I have is about the River centre-forward, no.23 (Fabiani) i think his name is. He looked like a Mark Viduka-type player, good feet, good with his back to goal and looked the most likely to score. Where has he come from, how old is he and does he have a big future?
Ed Middleton

A) Cristian Fabbiani is a River fan who joined the club at the start of the year from Newells - before that he'd played in Chile, Israel and with Cluj in Romania. He is talented, as you say, excellent with his back to goal. But he's already 26, and if he's going to get the most from his talent then he still needs to work at his fitness.

He's lost some, but he's still carrying too much weight - hence his 'Ogre' nickname, and the fans turning up wearing 'Shrek' costumes in his honour. As I mentioned in the previous answer, there are lots of players there - Abelairas, Buonanotte, Rios, Cabral, Domingo - who look like terrific prospects but are not coming through. Time is not on Fabbiani's side is he's gong to buck this trend.


  • Comment number 1.

    Great article once again Tim- I find the analytical approach to the underlying causes much more interesting than a simple overview of the weeks events, and nobody does it better. Congrats.

  • Comment number 2.

    Solid as always Mr.Vickery. Now hearing that Lothar Matthaus will coach Racing in Argentina, I wonder how long that will last.

  • Comment number 3.

    Matthaus may not have a good record as a coach in Europe, but had an unbeaten record in his brief spell at Paranaense before going awol after seven games. It will be interesting to see if he lasts longer this time round...

  • Comment number 4.

    Also to add, Argentina nor Brasil will never take in a coach from Europe. It does not work that way for the Argentinos nor the Brasilians. I have always felt that going outside of your country to get a coach seems a bit desperate(Not poking fun at England, but look at it). If you are a great footballing nation it starts from the coaching and etc. Putting European tactics in Argentine and Brasilian football? I do not know. The other countries in South America have but I just do not like it. I would not even like a Brasilian coach or a Colombian or a coach from Uruguay coach Argentina. And I feel the Brasilian will feel the same way. If you are a great nation in football, you should have a great coach from that country as well.

  • Comment number 5.

    Another good read Tim!! I wonder how long it will take before someone thinks your not entitled to your own opinion today!!haha

  • Comment number 6.

    Nice piece Tim, as always.
    It's so nice to learn that there's an Englishman who ventured across Pacific to coach football. I wonder if we'll witness the same in the foreseeable future with the dearth of good managers in the UK.
    Respect for your analytical review.

  • Comment number 7.

    It is the exact opposite in African foootball,just look at S,Africa sack Brazilian Joel Santana and re-appoint Parreira who left his post last April.

    Nearer to S,America,Mexico have had foriegb coaches with varing degrees of success,Eriksson being one. Until a European coach conquers S.American club football I really can't see it happening at national level.

    We have had this discusssion on WFPI,last January,when I brought it up regarding African football,and Tim and Sean spoke about their regions,Tim said it was unlikely among Brazil or Argentina.

  • Comment number 8.

    Great Blog as usual Tim.

    On a purely pedantic note - manurechampsforever - The Englishman ventured across the Atlantic. Or if he went across the Pacific I would have thought he got lost!

  • Comment number 9.


    Great read - one of the best articles I've read on the Internet in a while.

    One thing I have picked up on though is the acceptance of Sven as the England manager. I'm not an England fan but I can tell you that people were not really happy with him being the manager - the problem was that there is straight forward way to get him out.

    Due to the amount of money in the European game, managers are more expensive to sack with the huge amounts of compensation. Therefore the sacking becomes much more of an unlikely event as the FA will keep faith in their expensive aquistion.
    The relationship that fans have with clubs and the FA in this country are nowhere near as close as that in South America or some other European countries. This means then that any views, potential protests (which are rare in England, for the reason they aren't successful) are ineffective.

  • Comment number 10.

    There is a good article in 442 this month about Fabianni. As with Tim, it comments on his ability and weight issues. He is obviously a bit of a playboy as his only attempt to learn Romanian whilst at Cluj was 'Do you want to go home with me' which he used at every girl in the clubs LOL

  • Comment number 11.

    BatiBati9 - yet another s.american xenophobe - discrimination based on nationality seems to be de rigueur amongst your s.american audience

    though this goes some way to answering the original question and adds weight to your point about cultural identities

  • Comment number 12.

    Insightful as always Tim. I see no reason why European Coaches can't do well in South America, I suppose there may be a reluctance to do so.

    With Lothar Matthaus moving to Argentina, how do you think a German will fair in South America?

  • Comment number 13.

    Its good to see that two Argentian coaches have helped two South American countries reach the 2010 World Cup. I think Biesla is more experienced and I wasn't really surprised by his success but lets wait and see what Chile does in South Africa next year.

  • Comment number 14.

    @ lennone - calling him a xenophobe seems a bit harsh, and a bit baseless.

    Its an understandable viewpoint - big football countries should have the resources within to appoint a national coach of their own, and not need to import foreign coaches to do such a job.

  • Comment number 15.

    LawBestCharlton - fair point

    BatiBati9's point is that he/she would not have a foreigner managing the Argentine national side, irrespective of the quality of the individual - this may be to do with their attitude toward globalisation and free-labour rather than xenophobia - however BatiBati9 is emboldened by hindsight, I imagine he/she would not be as forthright with their views had maradona not pulled the rabbit from the hat (which McClaren was unable to do - hence Capello rather than another untested Englishman)

  • Comment number 16.

    Hey Tim good column as ever. I’m also a Rio living brit and I noticed the following grammar in today’s piece....... “Distances are vast, mass salaries are low”………nice I do this too! R

  • Comment number 17.

    On foreign coaches working for South American club teams no one has a better record than Alfredo Di Stefano. While I recognize that La Saeta Rubia was born in Barracas and played his first two years of professional football in Argentina (1945, 1947), he moved abroad and later was, from 1956 on a naturalized Spanish citizen. He returned to his native Buenos Aires after 22 years and for one season only, to coach Boca Juniors; he was a virtual stranger and as I remember fairly resisted by press and fans. He coached a fantastic team to win the 1969 Campeonato Nacional, he resigned immediately following the celebrations and returned to Spain. He had one more Argentinian stint with River Plate, winning the 1981 Campeonato Nacional with the core of the 1978 World Cup winners in hand: Fillol, Passarella, Kempes, Gallego and Tarantini. This makes him two for two on very short schedules... hopefully Matthaus can work some Racing magic in the next very few weeks...

  • Comment number 18.

    This article highlights another of the many negative effects of globalisation on the game of football. While you can argue globalisation has, in some cases, brought people from different parts of the world together and enabled an exchange of cultural viewpoints, which may promote more tolerance (this is definitely a most positive thing), it has also eroded on the traditional values of football in several countries, and engendered a type of homogenous style of football that has had the effect of destroying distinctive styles of football philosophy that a football fan could associate with a particular team or country. You can parallel this with the large number of corporations that now have branches all over the world, both developed and developing countries. If you go on holiday to a particular country, and want to sample some of the distinctive aspects of that country's culture, whether it be food, music, etc, you see that a lot of time, these aspects are hard to find, as a lot of the shops are dominated by Multi National corporations and brands.
    Hopefully South American teams (and teams all around the world) still maintain or refind their distinctive footballing identity, something that has been severely damaged, along with other aspects of life, by the neoliberal free market fundamentalism promoted by ideologues with only $$$$ in their minds.

  • Comment number 19.

    Other examples of foreign coaches in Argentina:

    Current Real Madrid coach Chilean Manuel Pellegrini coached Buenos Aires sides San Lorenzo and River Plate to Clausura titles in 2001 and 2003.

    Uruguayan Oscar W. Tabárez led Boca Juniors to the 1992 Torneo Apertura trophy and narrowly lost the 1991 Clausura.

  • Comment number 20.

    Marcelao, to say Distefano was European Coach is ridiculous. Distefano played for River and Huracan for 4 years, left Argentina at 23 for Colombia where he played 4 more years. He arrived to Europe at 26, hardly a youngster and he definitely had defined his playing style by then. Also he coached in argentina thrice, first for Boca in 69-70, then for river in 81-82 and finally for boca again in 1985.
    Many argentine players have gone to play in europe and came back to coach in argentina, that doesn't make them european.
    Personally I would love to see what a European coach could do with Argentina or Brazil's national team, but people here (at least in Argentina where I live) are very stubborn nationalists, usually out of ignorance. Just seeing how people here talk about Messi and how he's "too European" gives me a headache.

  • Comment number 21.

    Oh what a surprise. Another blog from Mr. Vickery arguing how Argentinian football is 'superior' to Brazilian's. This seems to be the common thread of most of his blogs. I wonder why that is....

  • Comment number 22.


    I hardly consider this article to be highlighting the 'negative effects of globalisation on the game of football.'

    If anything, this article goes on to highlight the case of Chile's success being one of a lack of identity. A lack of identity, which in Tim's opinion, has made it easier for Bielsa, an Argentinian, to implement a more Argentinian, hance a more globalised outlook on the game, which has perhaps aided Chile's success.

    Your final point on hoping to see national teams retain their identity is neither here nor there. If we look at Brazil, they maintain a distinctive cultural and football identity, and it works for them. Yet here we have Chile, perhaps operating with a lack of Chilean footballing identity, but this has still worked for them also.

  • Comment number 23.

    20. joacogui - "messi...too European"

    In my lifetime, there's never been a European player like Messi (an older fan will tell you about George Best)...we can only dream of players like Messi - it would give me a headache too

  • Comment number 24.

    Oh what a surprise. Another blog from Mr. Vickery arguing how Argentinian football is 'superior' to Brazilian's. This seems to be the common thread of most of his blogs. I wonder why that is...

    im confused, what exactly is your point? he's not said that at all

  • Comment number 25.

    I think 21's main point is that he doesn't have a clue.
    Bottom of the class in reading comprehension!

  • Comment number 26.


    What's you're reaction to comment number 9? You spent time answering the fool at number 21 who is on another planet, do you have any comment on my point?


  • Comment number 27.

    Oh what a surprise. Another blog from Mr. Vickery arguing how Argentinian football is 'superior' to Brazilian's. This seems to be the common thread of most of his blogs. I wonder why that is...

    im confused, what exactly is your point? he's not said that at all


    I'm suggesting that there is an underlying bias on the blog and I wonder why that is. If one reads Mr. Vickery's blogs more critically and between the lines, this is quite apparent. Go over his previous blogs and check it out from this angle.

  • Comment number 28.

    Your blog is, almost without exception, excellent reading.

    I have no great interest in S.American football, nor am I of S.American extraction and have only visited the continent on one occassion - it is the quality of your article that keeps me coming back.

    Each week, I can't help but notice that you manage to draw the worst kind of unfounded negativity from commentators (a few weeks ago it was quite disturbing).

    This had me thinking about why this would be the case, and I have seen it suggested on more than one occassion that S.Americans (esp. it seems Brazilians and Argentines) do not take kindly to reading about the football played in and by their respective nations by a foreigner (you).

    Begs the question, why do they continue to read your column?

    The answer...because it is a great column.

    Give yourself a pat on the back for each one of these nutters (though I appreciate that they are entitled to their opinions)and keep up the great work.

  • Comment number 29.

    27 - Why waste yours (and others) time posting this comment in between valueable questions and opinion?

    If you do not like the article or are even questioning Tim's bias can't you just not read future articles? Either that or wait for the right time and question his bias with some evidence.

  • Comment number 30.

    28. You are right. It is a good blog (if albeit a little repetitive). And that is why people read it. But why belittle and chastise those who pose some critical questions? Do all comments have to be a way of massaging the author's ego?

    I lived in Brazil for many years and I still support 'my team' there. So, I have an interest.

    Bottom line is: is there a bias or not? When I read the blogs I go away with the distinct feeling there is (there are many examples, but you should find these out for yourself. Just read the past articles with critical eyes). I'm curious to find out why.

  • Comment number 31.


    Having read this blog for a few years now, (the comments bit is normally as entertaining as the blog itself) you see critics of the blogs generally fall into the same few categories, though almost all of these contradict other categories

    Your point is no more valid than any other "Tim favours country X over country Y" critic. In a pro Brazil blog you'll find a horde of argentinians complaining he is biased towards Brazil. In a pro-Argentine blog you'll find Brazilians citing bias towards Argentina. There isnt anything of either. So either you're looking for subtext that hasnt been entered, you havent read it properly or you're just trying to provoke a response and a personal response from Tim. I'm curious to find out why...

  • Comment number 32.

    everything is very confusing... the caption below the blog's photograph talks about Colombia's win but what we see is Paraguayans celebrating presumably qualifying for SAfrica 2010

    To number 20. joacogui

    Nevertheless, Di Stefano never moved back to Argentina and has been a citizen (by choice) and a resident of Spain for the last 50 years. How are we to consider Mastroeni, Camoranesi or Trezeguet twenty years from now? Is Ibrahimovic a true descendant of vikings? Who cares? Where is home?

    Number 22's argument is insightful. Borders have become fuzzier than ever and Dutch and French players now put their foot 'on the ball' and waste those seconds that make SAF and most British coaches crazy. Dunga has gone to backs that look like NZ All Black forwards and 3 defensive midfielders, Bielsa is pure vertigo and pressing (Chile had nothing to go by until Bielsa came in), Argentina is rife with superbly skilled little forwards, yet games are won by generic 'Palermos' fielded on hunches by Diego the sorcerer. It is all about balance really. As for me.... bring Hagy and Zizou back, Messi and Zlatan, Roman and Giggs, Iniesta and Dimitar.

  • Comment number 33.


    Like you, I've also been reading this article for as long as it has been going. You will find this is my first comment ever. And I didn't make it to receive a personal response - that is completely irrelevant.

    To suggest there is no bias in blogs (or any article for that matter) is, at best, naive. There is always bias - one doesn't need to agree with them to enjoy the same said articles though. Read any blog or article and you will find bias. Even in (the great) Tostao's (and I'm yet to find someone more balanced) articles there is bias.

    I was curious to find out the reason(s) for Mr. Vickery's bias. But I guess that won't be possible.

  • Comment number 34.

    28. You are right. It is a good blog (if albeit a little repetitive). And that is why people read it. But why belittle and chastise those who pose some critical questions? Do all comments have to be a way of massaging the author's ego?

    I lived in Brazil for many years and I still support 'my team' there. So, I have an interest.

    Bottom line is: is there a bias or not? When I read the blogs I go away with the distinct feeling there is (there are many examples, but you should find these out for yourself. Just read the past articles with critical eyes). I'm curious to find out why.


    if you look for something hard enough you will always find it. you want to see this "bias" so take every word he writes, and look at it in that context of underlying criticism. i read these blogs all the time, and i never noticed any bias. and the fact that you are in the vast minority suggest that it is you, rather than the rest of us getting it wrong.

    if tim was to write that he was not biased at all would you believe him?

  • Comment number 35.

    9 - I was too far away to know if people in England were not happy with the sven reign - but i did see that in the World Cups England fans travlled in their thousands to see the team.

    I remember the main commentator on Brazilian TV finally getting botred with the much hyped England team during the last World Cup, and concluding, "you know, i think the supporters are better than the team."

    On this whole dreary bias thing - firstly it does bear out the point of the article - problems faced by a foreigner working in this environment. Secondly, as I've mentioned before, if I have people from Argentina accusing me of a Brazilian bias, and people from Brazil saying tat I'm pro-Argentina - then I think that's proof of striking a balance.

  • Comment number 36.


    "Read any blog or article and you will find bias."

    I think the above sentence is the one that will see us differ. I accept that there can be a bias here and there, one would argue that there needs to be to justify the blog subject matter. However, you appear to try and highlight a consistent underlying bias in all blogs towards one subject by the blogger here - one towards Argentina and an alleged Argentinian superiority subtext therein.

    Personally i dont believe this exists in every blog as you rumour, and will stand by my point that Time then alluded to at the end of post 35.

  • Comment number 37.

    Mr. Vickery,

    Good blog, I think that it's one of the few I would say..that there isn't any bias involved. This blog is never talking about Argentina vs Brazil, I don't know where people are getting this from or do they suffer from schizophrenia? Perhaps.

    One question, What do you think will happen if Maradona is given a ban from matches in the WC, does that mean he will be forced/willingly sacked?
    What about the identity of Brazil with Dunga, not the most excitingm far from 'zamba' football, is that being lost with this coach?


  • Comment number 38.

    Benitez would muller any South American league.

  • Comment number 39.

    37 - a country's footballing identity is rarely a monolithic block - there is usually plenty of conflict taking place inside the culture.

    in the case of brazil, dunga is not a one man pragmatist on a mission - his way of thinking is a current which has been growing in brazil for a while - especially since the loss to holland in 74 and the perceived need to match the europeans in physical terms, given a boost by the failure of the wonderfully attractive 82 to win the world cup.

    but the 'samba, no regard for tactics, let in 6 to score 7' thing was always a myth. underpinning brazil's worldcup wins has usually been sound planning and good defence - they invented th back 4, and when they won the first of their world cups in 58, with a side packed wit brilliant individuals, they were so good defensively that they didn't concede til the semi finals.

  • Comment number 40.

    Certainly there are always conflicts and divided opinions in a culture's football, just ask the Argentines! I don't think any of them have a clue. But isn't there certain trademarks/styles that some countries have been "known" or become famous for. For example Italy has always been know for their defense, England for their direct approach, Germany is known for their professionalism. Even Chile has some notable trademarks which are known in many places worldwide, such as the 'gol de chilena' or the bicycle kick/overhead kick. I think Brazil has been know for their attractive football, and it would seem many of the supporters demand such football. You are based in Brazil, what are the feelings of the people in Brazil on the style of play now..are they just pro-results or do they want an attractive and beautiful football?

  • Comment number 41.

    Hi Tim,

    Nice article as always, however, as I took exception to your choice of "post bag" letter last week, I also have to take exception with your very that the English public accepted Sven Goran Eriksson's "overly cautious tactics" at major tournaments?!!

    I don't know of anyone that thinks Sven did a good job with England at a major tournament! Indeed the World Cup Quarter Final against Brasil, where we were trailing 2-1, had a man advantage, weren't creating anything and still waited for the last 20 minutes to throw another forward on summed up Svens entire reign!!!

    You were perhaps a little detatched from the reality being in Brasil if you think anyone accepted how that man chose to approach tournaments with probably the best group of England players since the 70 world cup!

  • Comment number 42.

    Well let me clear something up. I would love Diego to leave the side but it just wont happen. The problem with a foreign coach is that he or she may lack the passion that will push the players. If you have a star on your jersey as a national side then you know about winning. There are plenty of great coaches in England,Germany,Italia,Brasil,Argentina and I could go on. I just do not see why you would have to look elsewhere for a coach. There are 2 things that the AFA does with the national team, that is A- never really fire a coach,they let it ride until the end and B, ever hire a foreign coach. I would fear that coach would not understand Argentine football.

    As for Messi being a bit "Too European", let me explain something. If Messi had played even a single season in Argentina apertura or clausura he would be much more liked here in Argentina. He has spent almost half his life in Catalonia, but he does come back for the summer. But the problem with this theory is that none of the big clubs took the risk on him and the cost of his medical bills, Barcelona were. Many people are scolding Lio for his play for Argentina, and it is not just because of Maradona. He did not do so great under Basile either. He did better but nothing out of this world. Lio needs that Xavi behind him like Riquelme was and maybe Payasco Aimar will be that player. You can not be a ghost for an entire match if you dubbed "World's Best" and a strong population does not even watch European football in Argentina and could care less what he does for Barcelona. I still have faith in him and I think he will break out soon.

  • Comment number 43.

    Tim, when you will write about the WONDERFUL Brazilian championship where 5-6 teams have the chance to win the championship with 7 games to the end?

    It surely deserves an article.

  • Comment number 44.

    Tim, for years I have been a big fan of South American I just love it can't wait for the world cup finals next year I'm so excited & I'm a GOONER,

  • Comment number 45.

    Hi Tim,

    Amazing article, as always. Recently a well known jounalist in Brazil has rated Bélla Guttmann as one of the top 10 managers in Brazil history. I rarely hear something about him in Brazil, but some say he was instrumental in the development of modern football formations and tactics in Brazil. I would love if you could write a few words about him. Thanks.

  • Comment number 46.

    Great article Tim. Just wondering what your thoughts are as regards to the top and bottom of Brazil's serie A league. With Palmerias, Atletico MG, Internacional, Sao Paulo, Flamengo and Cruzeiro all with a chance in taking the title, and just 7 games to go, who do you think has what it takes to get it over the line and claim the title? I would also love to know your thoughts on the bottom 5 that could end up in Serie B next season. Im a big Fluminense fan and it's a tough task, but with Fred back in the side and the ever improving Alan, what do you think of Nense's chances in stay up? If we can beat Atletico MG at home, its going to be a massive boost. Also, to come back from 2-0 down against Goias without keyman Conca shows we must be showing real character lately. Also, whats the perception of Fluminense' Alan amoungst journalists in Brazil?

  • Comment number 47.

    Fluminense are in need of a coach at the moment,see my post 7 Parreira fourth stint at the club. Perfect solution have Joel Santana as your new coach,but on a serious note African sides seem to prefer European and S.American coaches.

    African players are sought after,Drogba Essien E'to and only last week Ghana were crowned U20 champs beating Brazil. SAFA find the choice of a Brazalian coach alluring,just like many clubs do for Brazilian players some 1000 players all over the world

  • Comment number 48.

    I cannot imagine Brazil being coached by a foreigner ever. Perhaps Mourinho who speaks Portuguese, but it would have to be for a lot of money otherwise we all know he wouldn't bother. To be the national Brazilian team manager, you go through so much pressure that I don't think any foreigner should ever be considered; they wouldn't cope as they don't have the background of growing up in this culture. You must not only win matches, but you must display the "jogo bonito".
    Perhaps at club level someone might venture from abroad, but it would have to be just for the challenge.

  • Comment number 49.

    to "thehonorarytitle"
    I didn't understand your comment, what is it argentines don't have a clue about?

  • Comment number 50.

    Just out of curiosity, the Brazilian National Team had a foreigner coach only once, just for a single match.

    That happened in 1965, in a tournament that marked the inauguration of Mineirão stadium, as Palmeiras were requested by the Brazilian Confederation to play as the national team against Uruguay.

    Palmeiras' coach at the time was Argentinian Filpo Nuñes, who became then the only ever foreigner in charge of the "Seleção". For the record, the game was played in September 7th, 1965, and ended Brazil 3-0 Uruguay.

  • Comment number 51.

    Tanzania (an East African country) national team is currently being coached by the brazilian Marcio Maximo. Although he's been given all material support and assistance by the government (I heard it's the President who employed him), nothing of value has been achieved. He only managed to qualify for the finals of CAF competition for home based players (CHAN). What's your take on this, Tim? Do Brazilian coaches struggle in the foreign countries, especially those which portuguese is not the first language? The latest examples, Big Phil and Santana. Or is it that this man is not competent enough?
    It's rumoured in the country that this is the man who nurtured Ronaldo de Lima.

  • Comment number 52.

    Interesting blog as always. I'd also be interested to know if you think European players can succeed in South America - I'm not sure if there's that many, but I saw Dejan Petkovic was in the news recently for scoring another olympic goal and still seems to be hugely popular at 37. Are there any more similar cases?

  • Comment number 53.

    Christian Fabbiani is a loudmouth waste of space.

    And Argentina will NEVER have a foreign manager, no self-respecting large football country ever should.

  • Comment number 54.

    busbykay wrote:

    And Argentina will NEVER have a foreign manager, no self-respecting large football country ever should.


    This is a prime example of xenophobia at it's worst. At risk of sounding xenophobic myself, why is it that the xenophobic comments on this blog tend to originate from a minority of Brazilians and Argentinians?

    What is your take on this, Tim?

  • Comment number 55.

    Its got nothing to do with xenofobia.

    Its got everything to do with taking pride in your countrymen representing your country and I won't apologise for that for 1 second.

    And btw, Im an englishman of immigrant stock now living in Argentina.

  • Comment number 56.

    54 - Xenophobia? No, it's a question of principles.

    I have nothing against foreigners, by the contrary, I respect them very much, but to coach my nation I want somebody from here.

    International Football allows players to choose their allegiance but they can't (nowadays) play for 3 or 4 countries. So the "Brazil Forgotten Childs" end up playing for Portugal and the "Brazilian Rejects" end up playing for Qatar. This is is of very little importance. At what price? They naturalized for it. They are portugal/qatar nationals now.

    Same should be applied for coachs. This being a nations competition, why the players shouldn't be allowed to come from other countries(Unless they spend 1/5 of their lifes in that country) and coaches are freely accepted from other countries?

    When England appointed Sven, I laughed and dismissed it as "England starting to look like an international minnow". When England appointed Capello, I laughed and took it as the proof that England knows that they can't play football by themselves, that their football history, tradition and philosophy is no longer required.

    I think it's time for FIFA to end this(at least in high-ranked nations)

  • Comment number 57.

    There is nothing wrong with taking pride in your countrymen; it's what we all do when we cheer on our national team.

    But as an Englishmen I take no less pride in having Capello take the lead at England and watching the team reap the rewards of hard work.

    The part of the phrase I take exception to is "no self-respecting large football country ever should."

    so by that rule, either that means that England are a large footballing nation with no self-respect, or simply a small football nation.

    Seeing as by international standards we are by definition a large footballing country, you seem to be implying that we have no self-respect, just for having an Italian coach.

  • Comment number 58.

    @ galoucura

    Your comment says you are laghing at England for appointing foreign coaches.

    It seems you are laghing based purely on nationality. You are laghing at a pre-concieved notion that Foreign coach autommatically = minnow.

    These pre-concieved notions based purely on nationality are the foundations of xenophobia, my friend.

  • Comment number 59.

    #45 is right Tim: tell us your thoughts about Guttmann.

  • Comment number 60.

    The part of the phrase I take exception to is "no self-respecting large football country ever should."

    so by that rule, either that means that England are a large footballing nation with no self-respect, or simply a small football nation.

    Correct. They lost their self-respect the day Erikson was appointed. It was confirmed when Cappello was appointed.
    Appointing a foreign manager is the mentality of a small football nation, its embarrassing.

    I don't know if people are looking to take offence in the wake of all the BNP stuff. It has nothing to do with xenofobia. We are talking about REPRESENTATIVE sport.
    A country should represent itself, it shouldn't shell out millions on imports.

  • Comment number 61.

    Just saw that Fabio Aurellio has been called up to the Brazil squad for the game against England. Does this mean he has a realistic chance of getting into the world cup squad? And with Grafite Over looked and Hulk in, is that his last chance to claim a stake gone?

  • Comment number 62.

    Correct. They lost their self-respect the day Erikson was appointed. It was confirmed when Cappello was appointed.
    Appointing a foreign manager is the mentality of a small football nation, its embarrassing.

    I don't know if people are looking to take offence in the wake of all the BNP stuff. It has nothing to do with xenofobia. We are talking about REPRESENTATIVE sport.
    A country should represent itself, it shouldn't shell out millions on imports.

    You fail to understand that these are merely your opinions.

    We happen to disagree, but if you look beyond merely disagreeing, try to actually look at the basis of your opinion.

    Your whole notion that England have no self respect is based on a relationship an international football team has with an Italian coach.

    Can't you read, or am I simply not explaining it properly? Your pre-concieved notions are based purely on nationality and nothing more, and that is xenophobia. It is a discrimination based purely on nationality.

    I'm quite certain we will never agree. Agreeing to disagree is just fine by me. But to try and defend yourself as non-discriminatory is a joke, when your only arguement for disapproval is based purely on nationality. That is xenophobia. Simple as that.

  • Comment number 63.

    I am from Brasil and i think that European countries having a foreign coach is a bit sad. I dont mean i have an issue with it, i mean it is actually sad. In the case of England, you have one (if not the) best league in Europe, but all your successful coaches are foreign. Am i correct in saying that no English manager has ever won the Premier League?

  • Comment number 64.

    #49. joacogui

    The Argentines don't have a clue on lots of things. First of all, they appointed Madonna as coach. Anyone who knows anything about argentinian football will tell you there is a tremendous power struggle in the argentine AFA. They don't know how to choose the people that will lead the team such as coaches, and the members of the AFA don't have a clue (or vision) about where to go with their football. They don't know how to get the best out of their tremendous talent, even little Messi goes missing, and he's arguably the best player on the planet. Also, the Argentinian league barely got in time to start playing because of their problems, economically and in structure. To say they don't have a clue is an understatement.

  • Comment number 65.

    Honorary, youre speaking total nonsense.
    Grondona, the AFA president has been in power 30 years. Power struggle? His position is safer than the popes.

    You are correct to criticise Maradona (grondona's choice, not the "people's"), he is awful, however read your post. Who sounds jingoistic now? Just waiting for a Falklands comment from you....

    Daemon, I have no prejudice against foreigners. I am one myself. I happen to believe that people from the country should represent that country in representitive sport. Otherwise what's the point?

  • Comment number 66.

    #65 busbykay
    I was never questioning Gorgona's position as president, how you interpreted that or where you got that from, only you and Maradona (a.k.a. GOD) know. The power struggle i was refereing to in is Argentina powerful media group, Clarín, and the administration of President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner on TV rights, sorry i didnt specify. Also, there power struggles in many clubs, where "gangs" of supporters seem/suspected to control or have power over such things as the starting players and transfers. Although nothing is proven, there are huge rumors and as is widely known now also that they a say in the stadium and club business.

  • Comment number 67.

    Where did i get it from?
    You said "tremendous power struggle in the argentine AFA." That clearly suggests the leadership (Grondona, not Gordona).

    The rest is vague drivel.

  • Comment number 68.

    #67 please refer to #25. by Tim Vickery.

  • Comment number 69.

    62 - International Football is BASED on nationality.

    The England Squad should represent ENGLAND.

    The Italy Squad should represent ITALY.

    Club Football is BASED on finances.

    If Man City can afford an ITALIAN coach, I don't see any reason not to have one.

    But why ENGLAND should?

  • Comment number 70.


    62 - International Football is BASED on nationality.

    The England Squad should represent ENGLAND.

    The Italy Squad should represent ITALY.

    Club Football is BASED on finances.

    If Man City can afford an ITALIAN coach, I don't see any reason not to have one.

    But why ENGLAND should?

    You asked one question, which I will answer.

    Why should England? Because we have no coaches that are good enough.

    Whether you agree with this concept or not, I am simply giving you the answer that none of our coaches are good enough.

    The italian squad probably should represent Italy. But they still play Camoranesi - an Argentinian, Rossi - an American.

    Let me clear one thing up. You are right in your post.... national teams probably should be a pure representation of nationality.
    But England are not breaking a law by having an Italian coach... and so I take exception to a previous users comments about the issue of self-respect, rather than your comments.

  • Comment number 71.

    Great blog as always, however sometimes I can't help but feel that your great journalism and the discussion it stimulates is undermined by idiots who use this comments section to vent irrelevant opinions, backed by idiotic arguments; whether just to evoke a response or because they actually believe it I don't know. They seem to forget that the comments section is for comments relating to the article and not for us vs them personal comments.

    Maybe the BBC should keep closer moderation on the comments so that only those relevant to the article are published?

  • Comment number 72.

    70 - Then again, I can do nothing but to wish that FIFA won't allow it anymore.

    On Rossi and Camoranesi, both naturalized. Rossi because of his fathers(or grandfathers, can't remember) who were in fact, from Italy.

    Camoranesi, because he couldn't play for Argentina. So he adopted his new nation. He was living there for 6 years then and was very apt to pursue a new nationality. But then he couldn't play for Argentina anymore. He had a choice in his hands.

    What about the coach? Parreira led Brazil twice and South Africa twice! Half the world have Brazilian coaches now. If they lived in their new countries for a part of their life, I'd have no objection.

    But they didn't, they are professionals, hired for it, something that should be based on passion, not money.

    It's just like those Brazilians who are paid to get Qatar Passports and play for Qatar. Ridiculous. Money can't buy talent. Hard-work, culture and luck(Portugal anyone?) can.

    England is not the problem, it is merely a drop in the ocean.

  • Comment number 73.

    European football managers are quick learners. Many among them are highly respected by South American footballers plying their trade in European and Asian clubs. Adjusting to the cultures and habits of the South Americans should come easy to these supremely gifted man managers from both Eastern and Western Europe. There are some incredible European Football managers doing fantastic jobs beyond the borders of Europe.

    As usual great blog by Tim. He gives us good food for thought week after week. Thanks.

    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

  • Comment number 74.

    Hi Tim

    Great column again, im gonna be in Rio from the 7th Nove and was wondering what games you would recommend for me to take in.

  • Comment number 75.

    Let's go off on an interesting tangent.
    Tim,you claim "...underpinning brazil's worldcup wins has usually been sound planning and good defence - they invented th (sic) back 4..."
    However,I have it on good authority that the Swiss verrou system was the first to play 4 men in defense, and that Brazil borrowed the 4-2-4 formation founded in Uruguay to win in '58.
    So, is this your hydra-headed partiality rising up, or I've got my facts wrong?


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.