One notable feature of this summer’s World Cup is the relative lack of big-name coaches amongst the major powers. From Julen Lopetegui and Gareth Southgate through to Roberto Martinez, some of Europe’s stronger nations have made slightly surprising calls in recent years in terms of their most recent managerial appointments.
Brazil boss Tite is another who is hardly a household name outside of his homeland. It’s not for a lack of experience with the 57 year old now nearly 30 years into his coaching career but it’s only really in recent years that he has started to draw in the plaudits and he is widely regarded as the inspiration behind Brazil’s major turnaround in fortunes over the past two years.
So, who is Tite and why is he so highly regarded? His story is one of a man who is always learning and he has certainly reached the top the hard way:
Read more: Brazil’s transformation under Tite
A playing Career prematurely ended by Injury
While he never received an international call-up, Tite did play in the Brazilian top flight during the 1980’s as a hard-working defensive midfielder although he never featured for any of the country’s real glamour clubs. The most successful period of his career came at Campinas club Guarani, who finished as runners-up in the Brazilian Serie A in 1986 and 1987 and won the Sao Paulo State Championship the following year.
However Tite’s playing career would prove to be very short-lived. At 27, he was forced to give up the game following a series of knee injuries and he quickly turned his attention to coaching.
The journeyman Coach
Tite hadn’t yet turned 30 when he took on his first job in management at a small club named Guarany de Garibaldi. He spent the 1990’s learning his trade at a host of sides in the Brazilian lower and regional leagues searching for the break that could propel him to the big time. That break finally came in 2000 when he led unfancied Caxias to win the Campeonato Gaúcho. To put that in some perspective, it was only the second time in 45 years that a side other than Gremio or Internacional had won Rio Grande do Sul’s championship. Inevitably the triumph drew the attention of the state’s ‘big two’ and Tite got his big chance at Gremio the following year and immediately won the Copa do Brasil.
Although now operating on a higher level, it would be an exaggeration to say that the 2000’s would go on to be littered with success as far as Tite was concerned. He held eight different managerial roles during the decade with the 2008 Copa Sudamericana the only other piece of major silverware that he would get his hands on. He was just one of many journeymen coaches in Brazil, who moved from club to club without ever really getting the chance to build something lasting.
Success at Corinthians
Either side of his spell with Inter, Tite held jobs in the UAE but returned to his native Brazil in 2010 to take charge of Corinthians for the second time. It was at the Sao Paulo club where he really started to prove his worth and emerged as a leading candidate for the Brazilian national job.
He led Corinthians to the Brazilian title in 2011 before impressively winning both the Copa Libertadores and FIFA Club World Cup the following year. His side’s victory over Chelsea in the Final of the latter remains the only time in the last eleven years that a non-European side has won the trophy.
Tite left Corinthians in 2013 and was widely expected to get the Brazil job following the disaster of the 2014 World Cup but having been overlooked in favour of Dunga, Tite took his old job again late that year and rediscovered the old magic to lead Corinthians to a dominant title win in 2015.
With Brazil struggling under Dunga, it seemed almost inevitable that the Brazilian Football Confederation would come calling despite Tite having previously demanded the resignation of CBF president Marco Polo Del Nero. Tite would finally get the huge job of transforming the Brazilian national team’s fortunes the following summer after Dunga’s men endured a miserable Copa America campaign.
A Brazilian coach with a European mentality
Tite views Ancelotti as the best coach in the world:
Balanced, always has a plan B and flexible to situation. pic.twitter.com/LUFOJZC10y
— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) July 16, 2016
It’s a little bit ironic that Tite, who has never worked in Europe, is credited as the man to have moved Brazilian football into the modern era by adopting a more European approach. However there is much more to Tite than his long coaching career in Brazil suggests. He’s a student of the European game and used his Corinthians sabbatical wisely by spending time in Europe observing the training methods and tactics of the likes of Carlo Ancelotti and Zinedine Zidane at Real Madrid and Arsene Wenger at Arsenal.
Luiz Felipe Scolari was another former mentor but the pair fell out in 2010 with Tite suggesting Big Phil’s Palmeiras threw a match to diminish his Corinthians side’s chances of winning the title that year. Tite largely comes from a similar coaching background and school of thought to that of Scolari and other recent Brazil bosses such as Dunga and Mano Menezes but perhaps better than any of his predecessors, he has constantly tweaked his approach to adapt to an ever-evolving game.
When he finally did get the Brazil job in 2016, one of the most notable immediate changes was to push his defensive line up to form a much more compact and flexible unit than we’d seen under his two predecessors. Almost instantly it felt like Brazil had stepped into a new age and subsequent European tests, admittedly only in friendlies, have so far proved they are no longer the soft touch they were four years ago on home soil.
No stone unturned – Brazil’s most thorough World Cup preparation
Brazil to some extent have been victims of their own success and what happened in 2014 was largely a product of a reluctance to accept that the game had moved on and that Brazil could no longer simply rely on their never-ending talent flow and the same old tactics to produce results. While even now they remain the nation with the most World Cup wins, the 7-1 defeat to Germany was a huge wake-up call and under Tite, a new level of attention to detail and planning has been introduced.
Ahead of this year’s World Cup, Tite has individual scouts monitoring all of the other 31 teams in the tournament even though Brazil can’t possibly face half of those sides before the last four and realistically are not going to come up against a weak team like Saudi Arabia or Iran on the other side of the draw. It’s clear he wants to be prepared for every possible scenario that could arise this summer.
He has also run the Brazilian set-up more like a club side. ‘Tite talks to his players every day and sends videos and analysis on WhatsApp. He’s very different from previous Brazil coaches’ claimed Brazilian football analyst Paulo Vinícius Coelho.
It’s clear that this Brazilian set-up is no longer stuck in the dark ages and is no longer reliant on the methods that brought success in the 20th Century. Tite has managed to retain some of the attacking flare that Brazilian teams of yesteryear produced whilst settling on a more pragmatic philosophy that will allow him to adapt better to game situations than his mentor turned nemesis Scolari managed four years ago. Judging by their results so far under Tite, Brazil are capable of competing with anyone in Russia this summer and are capable of winning football matches in many different ways.
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