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Crisis at Corinthians

It has been eight games without a win for Corinthians and despite being crowned champions in 2005 they now find themselves languishing at the bottom of the table with no end in sight for their current crisis.

Crisis at Corinthians

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Rumours abound over the future of coach Geninho with most predicting his imminent departure - not surprising considering the string of coaches the club has gone through since being taken over by the mysterious MSI in 2004; Adema Brega, Júnior, Antonio Lopes. . . Geninho himself has suffered the wrath from above and resigned once before back in 2003 after the club suffered a humiliating 6-1 thrashing at the hands of Juventude; for the time being however it appears he will be staying put.

When challenged on the matter he reported having approached club directors following Timao’s latest defeat on Sunday, “to discuss all possibilities” but had been informed that a change in command was not an option that was being considered at present. He also stated that the players remain behind him and have asked him to stay.

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In reference to Sunday’s game, which saw Corinthians beaten one-nil by Santa Cruz in Recife, Geninho lamented that once again it was the team’s reaction to conceding a goal that was to blame. ‘The team entered the game calmly – they didn’t play exceptionally but they had chances and could have won the game. But when we conceded a goal from a set piece the team was shaken, just like the other games.” The players’ reaction to yet another loss were varied; while Édson focused on the determination of the team admitting that, “the situation is a horrible one for all the players,” but that, “the team demonstrated a great determination,” Ricardinho launched a ferocious attack on the state of the pitch arguing that it made it almost impossible to create chances.

Club President Alberto Dualib reacted to the game by appealing to fans for their continued support. “Let’s ask the fans once more to collaborate with the team so we can get out of this situation. We have done it before and we will do it again,” he said in reference to their attempt to escape relegation. His plea is understandable considering the often less than understanding nature of fans; following the Timão’s Copa Libertadores exit earlier this year supporters fought with police and attempted to invade the pitch. In the past they have broken into changing rooms to assault players and even set up a road block and attacked the team bus following one particularly harrowing defeat. Dualib insisted that taunting players will only antagonise them and prove counter productive; “what we need now is to work together and to fight with humility,” he argues.

Corinthians’ next game is against Atlético – PR and we can expect to see some drastic changes. In an interview with Sports TV Geninho admitted that he is hoping to see the return of Carlos Alberto, who is suffering from an ongoing shoulder injury, and that tactical changes are inevitable. The most likely change is a shift to a 3-5-2 formation, or so suggests Globo’s Giovane Martineli, in order to grant more freedom to the wingers. Another likely alteration is the exit of goalkeeper Silvio Luiz and his replacement by the Chilean Johnny Herrera.

Meanwhile the now public battle between the club’s directors and MSI representatives has deepened. The first clear signs of contention came after Corinthians slumped to a one-nil defeat to arch rivals Palameiras on July 16th. A number of directors openly expressed their frustration at MSI President Kia Joorabchian’s decision to allow Argentinean striker Carlos (Carlitos) Tevez to miss the game. Joorabchian hit back in a radio interview complaining “These last two years have been very tiring. Why do they always criticise the investor...Why do they complain about everything we do?” In more recent developments President Alberto Dualib has assumed full control of the club. In a rare move he attended training sessions at the Parque São Jorge and spoke with Roger, Marcelinho and Geninho. He also travelled to Recife with the team for their game against Santa Cruz.

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As if things were not bad enough for the club rumours refuse to disappear over the future of the two Argentinean internationals Carlitos Tevez and Javier Masherano. Carlitos has had a turbulent relationship with the club ever since his delayed return from the World Cup angered fans and staff alike. Following his equaliser during the team’s lacklustre performance against Fortelza the Argentine lifted a finger to his mouth and gestured for fans to be quiet; his car was later attacked when leaving the stadium. Threats of an orchestrated campaign against him by the powerful supporters’ group Gavioes de Fiel (Hawks of the Faithful) were enough to elicit an apology but Tevez admitted the incident may have put his future at the club in jeopardy. “It is difficult for me to stay at Corinthians,” he argued and cited concerns over the safety of his wife and daughter as additional worries.

Regardless of recent events Tevez has long made it clear that he does not see the Parque São Jorge and Corinthians as his long term home. Following the away leg of their Copa Libertadores match against River Plate in March he revealed his desire to move to Europe in an interview broadcast on Argentinean radio; he went on to admit that he has always dreamed of playing in Spain. The striker has been linked with a number of clubs including Manchester United, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspurs with most predicting a transfer fee of around £20million.

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Speculation persists over Mescharno, and with Alex Ferguson apparently keen to see the player move to Old Trafford many are predicting his imminent departure to Manchester United. The 22 year old has however repeatedly pledged his dedication to the club and assured fans he is going nowhere. While admitting that he cannot rule out a move to Europe in the future he insists, “I am not thinking about a transfer now and I wouldn’t accept a transfer at the moment – Corinthians are in a difficult position and we need all the help we can to get the team out of this.” While the club recently celebrated securing Nilmar on a permanent basis from his former club Lyon, he has picked up an injury to his right knee and is not expected to return to full fitness for a further six months; another serious setback.

There is some good news at least for the São Paulo club as Saturday will see their return to their favoured stadium - the Pacaembu; no games have been held there since fans ripped up seats and tried to invade the pitch during Corinthians’ clash with River Plate. In comments reported on their official website Mascherano stated, “What happened, happened three months ago – it is already forgotten. We have a chance to return to the Pacaembu – we need to think about winning and the Pacaembu is the best place to play.”

Corinthians will face 11th place Atlético – PR at the Pacembu on Saturday at 18:10 (local time). They are hoping the change of venue will coincide with a change in from and a change in fortune.

Article by Joe Kent
Photo's Courtesy of www.Corinthians.com.br - © Daniel Augusto Jr.

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