Right Time for Neymar Brazil Captaincy
It’s fair to say that Neymar’s last spell as Brazil captain, under the ill-fated second reign of Dunga from 2014 – 2016, did not go to plan. Not only was this a lean spell for the Seleção, with early exits at the 2015 and 2016 Copa Américas, but for Neymar, the extra responsibility of the captaincy just didn’t sit right. Encourage the Brazilian National Team by betting on https://www.maxfreebets.co.uk for that friendly game.
First of all, Dunga’s decision to appoint Neymar as captain was clouded in controversy as long time skipper Thiago Silva was relieved of the responsibility. Silva was considered a more natural leader, at centre half, he was physically better positioned to be captain and he was proud to wear the armband. Silva earned criticism for refusing to watch Brazil’s penalty shootout victory over Chile in the 2014 World Cup quarter-final.
Dunga did not take well to Thiago’s show of emotion and, as a stoic, poker faced man himself, he deemed Silva unsuitable to be captain, which immediately created conflict. Neymar had been handed the armband in awkward circumstances. The extra responsibility was also one he didn’t really need. Neymar was already the star player who drew the most attention.
In the years prior to Gabriel Jesus’ emergence, he was also the principal goal threat. Dunga was a tactically conservative manager, so most of Brazil’s creative play went through Neymar, who also took setpieces and penalties. Neymar was not and still is not a natural leader, so it seemed spectacularly unnecessary to ask him to learn to become one on top of his other responsibilities.
It also removed the sense of shared responsibility from the Seleção. Tactically, they were already simply being asked to funnel the ball through to Neymar at every opportunity. But the coach did not even trust one of them to wear the armband and at least lead the team on the pitch. It stands to reason that Neymar’s teammates began to feel left out.
After captaining a young team to Olympic glory in 2016, Neymar was outwardly relieved to relinquish the captaincy and Tite’s rotation policy began, a politically clever method of reinstating the concept of shared responsibility into a squad weary of Neymar-dependência. So it was a surprise when Tite awarded Neymar the armband full-time again after this summer’s World Cup.
But the gesture makes a little more sense now. Miranda and Thiago Silva are 33 and 34 and on their way out of the squad. Dani Alves is also 34. The only other candidates for the captaincy were Marcelo and Casemiro, both undisputed first XI players and both still of an age to take the armband to Qatar in 2022.
But this summer’s World Cup in Russia showed that Neymar still has some growing up to do and the captaincy could be a cute way of helping him to realise that. After two years of rotating the captaincy, the decision is not likely to upset any established teammates. Neither Casemiro nor Marcelo are especially natural captains. Four years on from Dunga’s bungled decision to make Neymar the official leader of the Seleção, this time, it feels like a more rational move.