Top 5 Candidates to Take over from Mano Menezes as Brazil National Team Manager
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With Mano Menezes consigned to the scrapheap just 18-months ahead of the 2014 World Cup, attention has turned to the possible identity of Brazil's next head coach.
Set to be named in January, will the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) give a shot to those who have achieved domestic success in recent years, or turn to a familiar face in the form of Luis Felipe Scolari?
Or, in the absence of outstanding Brazilian candidates, could the Seleção take the field under a foreign coach for the first time? Pep Guardiola is the man many would like to see take the position.
With no-one quite sure which way Brazil will turn, let's take a look at the likely candidates to step into the furnace and guide Brazil into the 2014 World Cup...
Luis Felipe Scolari
Luis Felipe Scolari led Brazil to glory in 2002
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Out of the Brazilian managers in the running, Luis Felipe Scolari would be the people's choice for the job.
Many around the country will remember his success at the 2002 World Cup having been appointed in similar circumstances with the competition fast approaching. That team, though, boasted a magnificent array of talent, including the "three Rs"—Ronaldo, Rivaldo and Ronaldinho.
Known as Felipão, or "Big Phil," Scolari has a strong record in international football with both Brazil and Portugal, while he led Palmeiras to the Brazilian Cup only this year. It must also be pointed out, though, that he was later fired by the club as the Verdão became the latest giant of Brazilian football to face relegation.
Romario, a vocal critic of Menezes and influential figure in Brazilian football, has already come out in support of Scolari returning to manage the national team. However, there are plenty around the country who feel that Scolari's best days are already long consigned to history.
Tite has led Corinthians to domestic and continental glory (Gazeta Press)
Tite is the man of the moment in Brazilian football, having guided his Corinthians side to the 2011 Brazilian Championship and 2012 Copa Libertadores titles. On form, he is the outstanding candidate.
Successful he may be, but Tite's management is far from universally popular. In a country that still harbours romantic visions of a return to Joga Bonita and the mythicised Brazilian style of the past, Corinthians' compact, counter-attacking style has not always been as warmly received as its success deserves. Corinthians current lack of "star-power" may also play against him.
That said, Tite is still thought to be the leading domestic candidate. After Dunga's pragmatism, Mano Menezes was supposed to herald a return to attacking virtues. That policy failed to ignite, but could Tite's model transform Brazil into a similarly ruthless operation ahead of their home World Cup?
Muricy's outstanding domestic record puts him in the frame (Ivan Storti/Lancepress)
Four league titles since 2006 and a Copa Libertadores triumph to boot; Muricy Ramalho has reigned majestically over domestic Brazilian football in recent years.
Offered the job ahead of Mano Menezes in 2010, Fluminense refused to release Ramalho to take the position, before he later ruled himself out of the running. In the eyes of many, Menezes should never have been in the job.
Santos, though, have not had a good year in 2012. After winning the state championship in May, they were supposed to make a challenge for both the Copa Libertadores and Brazilian Championship titles. Ultimately, neither came close to fruition.
What may play in Muricy's favour, though, is his close working relationship with Neymar who Brazil will need to be at his best if they are to succeed in 2014.
His undisputed claim to be the best manager currently operating in Brazil may have been challenged in recent times, but he still has plenty of supporters backing him to succeed with the Seleção. He has passed up on the opportunity once, but would be unlikely to do so again.
Abel Braga led Fluminense to the Brazilian Championship this year (Paulo Sergio/Lancepress)
Although considered the outsider of the domestic candidates, Abel Braga's stock is at an all-time high after leading Fluminense to the 2012 Brazilian Championship with games to spare.
While his record as a manager has not been universally successful, recent history is on his side with his last three jobs all bringing major titles including the much sought-after Copa Libertadores and Club World Cup with Internacional in 2006.
Abel Braga has some European experience as a player and, briefly, as a manager in France and his success in beating Barcelona at the Club World Cup may also play in his favour.
What may count against him, though, is that he has only recently returned to the spotlight after time managing in UAE. His appointment would be a sizeable gamble by those in charge.
Guardiola is the most sought-after man in world football
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Saturday's newspapers in Brazil were full of speculation that Pep Guardiola, the man credited with forming one of the best football teams of all-time, may be the man to carry Brazil into the 2014 World Cup.
Guardiola's strengths are well known and respected across the world. The idea of a team that retains the ball, lines-up with adventurous full-backs and is allowed to express itself is deeply appealing to the Brazilian footballing psyche.
That Brazil would ever need to appoint a foreign manager is unthinkable to some, but polls have shown Guardiola to be an exception in the eyes of many who dream of Brazil playing like Barça.
Newspaper Lance has also proclaimed that Guardiola "would take the job tomorrow"—that remains to be seen. Whether the elder statesmen of the CBF would be happy to see a foreigner managing Brazil for the first time in a World Cup they will host is another question.
Despite his obvious qualities, his appointment would be a major surprise.