10 Things Dunga Must Do to Revitalise Brazil
Like it or not, Dunga has returned to coach Brazil for a second time following the selecao's dramatic failure at the 2014 World Cup.
The CBF have never been ones to bow to public pressure and, yet again, they have done things their own way in appointing a manager who irritated many fans and media representatives in his first spell in charge.
Prior to the 2010 World Cup, his record as Brazil coach was excellent—winning both the Copa America and Confederations Cup. A second-half nightmare against Netherlands in South Africa, though, saw many turn on the manager and his pragmatic methods.
In this context, what can Dunga do to revitalise the Brazilian national team at the present time?
Find a New Long-Term Goalkeeper
It may not be the most pressing of concerns, but Dunga is a man who likes to build his sides upon defensive solidity. Therefore, finding a long-term goalkeeping solution is set to be key to his chances of success.
There are a few options as to who can take Julio Cesar's shirt in the years ahead, with Valencia's Diego Alves, Napoli's Rafael Cabral and Atletico Mineiro's Victor perhaps the leading candidates.
All have their unique qualities and Dunga will need to consider what role he wants his goalkeeper to perform when making his selection. Personally, Rafael would be my choice for the immediate future.
Introduce Technical Quality in Defensive Midfield
If there is one major lesson that Brazil should take from the World Cup it is that they cannot continue surviving with midfields based upon destroyers and box-to-box players alone. They need distributors who are comfortable in possession.
Luckily for Dunga, following a few years of relative drought, there are some excellent young candidates emerging. That said, patience will be required given their age and the demands of the position.
Cruzeiro's Lucas Silva, Porto loanee Casemiro and Barcelona's Rafinha look particularly interesting candidates, while the international careers of Sandro, Fernando and Romulo could be resurrected.
Cast the Net Wider for Centre-Forwards
Brazil has a dearth of candidates for the selecao's central striking position post-Fred and Jo, so Dunga must be creative in his selection policies.
In truth, there are few options of real quality in Brazil at present. However, internationally there are Brazilians with excellent goalscoring records and burgeoning reputations well worth examining.
Foremost amongst those are Guangzhou Evergrande's Elkeson, Benfica's Lima and even Shakhtar Donetsk's Luiz Adriano. They are not big names, but they have a proven eye for goal and a wealth of experience to offer any side.
Use Early Games for Experimentation
In September and October, Dunga's second spell as Brazil coach will get off to an explosive start with fixtures against Colombia, Ecuador and Argentina in the US and China.
Brazil will, of course, hope to get results back into the green with wins against local rivals, but it is far more important to test players and systems that will be useful in the years ahead.
There will be temptation to revert to default settings and focus on immediate results, but performances and long-term planning have to be the priority.
Improve Press Relations
Dunga's second tenure as Brazil boss will ultimately be judged by results, but it will make his task considerably easier if he can improve his relationship with the country's influential media.
There are several prominent commentators in Brazil who will not hesitate to stick the knife in should he fail, having alienated many in the journalistic profession during his first spell in charge.
The 1994 World Cup winner has acknowledged as much, but must now set about improving press relations and thus make his job easier in the long run.
Dispose of the Older Generation
There is no place for sentiment in top-level sport and Dunga must be ruthless in the coming months with 2018 in mind.
While selection must also be based somewhat on the present, there would seem little point persisting with the likes of Dani Alves, Julio Cesar or Fred at the current time.
Dunga has previously also shown a fondness for Kaka and Robinho, neither of whom have done much to suggest they still have a great deal in the tank moving forward. He must avoid the mistakes of the past and pick a progressive lineup to take Brazil into a new era.
Decide Upon a Captain and Back Him
As one of Brazil's great captains, Dunga could empathise with the situation of Thiago Silva this summer and has been clear in his admiration of the defender. However, it is also known that he is not convinced as to Thiago's captaincy credentials.
The PSG man will continue in the side over the years ahead, with his place incontestable given his credentials. However, there is reasonable cause for debate as to whether he is a natural leader.
Thiago is universally respected within the camp, but is not an outspoken character. Dunga must now decide what qualities he expects of the man with the captain's armband.
Reduce the Burden on Neymar
The back injury sustained by Neymar at the World Cup was treated akin to a family bereavement by many in Brazil, in the knowledge that the Barcelona star was key to their hopes of success.
Scolari had selected conservatively, knowing that his key man had the potential to inspire them to success but paid for his pragmatism when that spark was lost in the quarterfinal stage.
The likes of Lucas Moura, Gabriel Barbosa and Coutinho can assist Neymar in his task and should be given opportunities at the coming Copa America tournaments.
Pick Based on Form and Achievement Not Reputation
Managers have their favourites and will also be loyal to those who have served them well in previous games, but there must also be a willingness to adapt plans based on changing form.
For instance, it is inconceivable to many that the likes of Filipe Luis, Miranda and Rafinha were omitted from the World Cup squad this summer despite truly excellent seasons at club level.
Scolari's loyalty proved to be stubbornness in hindsight. Dunga may like Maicon, for example, but he must look at the realities of the situation and pick those most deserving.
Assert Influence to Change Domestic Football
If there is one thing that Dunga's reappointment to the position of national team head coach shows, it is that he has friends in powerful positions in Brazilian football.
Now, then, is his time to use those connections to change the domestic game for the better. A new calendar is needed, better financial regulation of the clubs and a determined effort to bring in bigger attendances.
For all the excellent players they are producing or, indeed, the significant money that has been pumped in over recent seasons, Brazilian football remains a mess. A powerful and structured domestic game would go a long way to making the national team's task considerably easier.
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