Mano and his favourites
Of course, things happen behind the scenes that we don’t see or know about. There did not seem to be much sense in the omission of Real Madrid left back Marcelo from the Copa America squad - then it emerged that a few months ago he had sent an e-mail back to his club, which by mistake he also sent to the Brazil coaching staff, which appeared to show that the national team was not a priority in his professional life.
Perhaps there is some similar kind of story with Jadson - a bad reaction to being substituted at half time against Paraguay, for example. Because on purely footballing grounds it seems hard to justify.
Those first 45 minutes against Paraguay were some of the best football that Brazil played in the Copa America, because Paulo Henrique Ganso had a partner, someone with whom to associate. Good teams are made up of these little partnerships.
After scoring the only goal of the first half Jadson was then replaced - the official, and comprehensible line being that it was to save him from a red card - he had already been given a yellow, and just before his goal he came close to picking up another one. The mystery is why he did not reappear in the tournament. He was given one opportunity - of 45 minutes - scored a goal and has now been discarded. It hardly seems fair, especially when Robinho, for example, is given chance after chance.
As I discussed here last week, Brazil’s potency on the counter-attack will not win them the 2014 World Cup. On Brazilian soil, opponents will take even more defensive precautions than usual. Brazil will have to find their way through packed defences -something that Menezes acknowledged as a problem in the very first press conference he gave as national team coach. Midfielders with good passing skills will be vital to the cause - but now Jadson has been discarded - and the same happened to Hernanes after his red card against France in February, partly caused, I would argue, by frustration at being unable to get into the game because he had been asked to play wide on the left, where he is not quick enough to make an impact.
If the treatment given out to Hernanes seems harsh, in the case of Jadson it is even harsher. He is, I suppose, an easy player to drop. Usually when he is included there are moans from the Brazilian media - this, after all, is a player based in Ukraine who made his name in Curitiba with Atletico Paranaense. There is no lobby for his selection the press of Rio and Sao Paulo, let alone Porto Alegre and Belo Horizonte. There were no big howls of protest in the major centres when the squad for the Germany game was announced and Jadson’s name was not on the list.
But if Mano Menezes finds some players easy to drop, there are others who are clearly firm favourites. There is nothing wrong with this. All coaches have favourites, the players they look to in order to form the heart and soul of their side.
But in the case of Menezes, what is striking is the fact that he has worked with so many of them at club level - in the current squad there are the examples of Victor, Andre Santos, Lucas Leiva and Elias - now joined by Corinthians midfielder Ralf.
Is Victor really a better keeper than Fabio of Cruzeiro? And after a rankly disappointing Copa, is Lucas Leiva really the man to play the crucial role of holding midfielder? All groups inevitably have problems inside them. After their Copa triumph, the unity of the Uruguay squad has been widely praised. Coach Oscar Washington Tabarez, though, was quick to emphasise that “this is not a club of friends. This is the Uruguay national team and has to behave as such. Of course, as a result of being together a relation is formed, but just because the players respect the rules doesn’t mean they are all happy. I saw a number of them crying in their rooms because they weren’t getting a game.”
If the criteria for selection is seen by enough of the players to be unfair, then the coach has a problem - which will always be there for the man in charge of Brazil as a result of the vast amount of options available to him. I wonder if the favouritism Mano shows to some players might cause him difficulties further down the line.