Monday, July 20, 2009


Now it is official. Yesterday, Vandelei Luxemburgo gave his first interview as the new coach of Santos, and also oversaw his first practice session with the players. I must confess I like him a lot as a coach. The big question is whether he will focus on coaching the team or not. Luxa is famous for being involved in too many projects simultaneously and forgetting to do his main job.

His contract goes until the end of 2009, which is clearly connected to the re-election of the president of the club, Marcelo Teixeira. If Luxa gets Santos into next years' Libertadores he will probably put the reelection of Teixeira as a precondition to the renewal of his contract.

Anyway, I translated a very good overview of Luxa's trajectory written by a Santista journalist, Alex Frutuoso. The original text can be read here.


Vanderlei Luxemburgo 4

Sounds like a movie title but it isn't. Who knows, maybe someday it might become a movie script. After all, the moments of Vanderlei Luxemburgo with Santos Futebol Clube are full of peculiarities and polemics. In the end it looks more like a soap opera than a movie.

I remember that in the finals of 1996, when Santos brought, at the time, Wanderley (yes, with W and Y) from Palmeiras, the news came like a bomb. After all, the man who had coached that famous Palmeiras squad was coming to Vila Belmiro, with the support of a board of directors that had as the main intellectual mentor no one less than Pelé, besides the support of a very strong sponsor, which, even though not as powerfull as its Palmeiras' counterpart, was at least going to finance part of the new coach salaries and a few new players.

In january 1997, Vanderlei Luxemburgo gave to the frustrated hearts of Santos fans a moment of hapiness with the conquest of the Rio-SP championship. If the competition did not receive the deserved attention from the media, that 2 to 2 tie game with Flamengo, in a completely packed Maracanã, left the fanbase with hopes that something bigger, and better, was about to come.

It didn't come. Even with the arrival of Müller, who played very well on Santos, Luxemburgo's team did not make to the end of important competitions. The miscommunication between the coach and the directors, after a while, brought up problems to a point where the coach warned, way before the end, that he would not fulfill the second year of his contract with the club. There are people who say that the turning point was the lack of efforts from the Santos' administration to bring Edmundo to the Vila Belmiro, after an intense contact of Luxemburgo with the player. It is important to remember that Edmundo was one of the best players during that season, leading Vasco to win the national championship. Up to this day people wonder how would an offensive line containing Edmundo and Müller be.

Notwithstanding the arguments on both sides, Luxemburgo went to Corinthians and became a hated figure among Santos fans, who threw coins at the coach the first time he returned to Vila Belmiro.

After that, time passed by. Luxemburgo became a champion with Corinthians, coached the National Team, went back to Palmeiras. After winning everything in 2003 with Cruzeiro, he was fired and right after received an invitation to work with Santos, with the mission of saving the team in the Libertadores. Luxemburgo replaced Leão, beat LDU on the second game, but ended up being eliminated from the tournament by the team that would be the champion that year, the Once Caldas.

In the Brazilian Championship he signed some new players and let others go. For once he had the opportunity of putting together the dream midfield against Atlético-MG, with Renato, Elano, Ricardinho, and Diego. Robinho and Deivid played as forwards.

But Renato and Diego left and Luxemburgo reorganized the team. During the competition, Santos tried to catch up Atlético-PR, faced numerous referee mistakes and even saw the kidnapping of Robinho's mother. In the last two rows, Luxemburgo's Santos leaded the tournament and became the champions, shutting up those who were against his return to the Vila Belmiro.

It was by the end of that year that, after renewing his contract with Santos, came a proposal from Real Madrid. Santos was nice to him and let him go. The year of 2005 ended up being terrible for both sides. Without Luxemburgo Santos had a bad performance and also saw Robinho and Elano leave. The coach, on the other hand, failed in his attempt to win Europe.

In 2006 the marriage was re-affirmed and Luxemburgo won the Campeonato Paulista with Santos, a trophy that did not come to the Urbano Caldeira since 1984. The rest of the season was not bad. Santos was eliminated from the Copa do Brasil, but assured a spot in the 2007 Libertadores. Everything ran smoothly as "planned."The year of 2007 started with an energetic Santos fueled by the soccer-art of Zé Roberto and the conquest of another state championship, with final games against São Caetano representing some of Luxemburgo's best moments. But everything changed after being eliminated from Libertadores once more. Even though possessing a better players, Santos was eliminated in the semifinals by Mano Menezes' Grêmio, and the gaúchos went to the finals against Boca Juniors in Argentina. The team was still able to be in second in the Campeonato Brasileiro, assuring a spot in next year's Libertadores. It was another good season.

Still, the relationship between both sides was not the same anymore. Luxemburgo was not unanimous among the fans. With no cash, the team was not able to hold Luxemburgo, who returned to Palmeiras.

At the Palestra Itália, Luxemburgo was Paulista champion for the third time, but also got in trouble with players, directors, and was even physically assaulted by fans. Santos, on the other hand, went through the nightmare of almost going to the second division, not repeating the same performance of previous years.

Now, in 2009, Luxemburgo and Santos meet again. The club considered Muricy Ramalho to replace Vagner Mancini but ended up bringing Luxa, who was fired from Palmeiras. A marriage reconciled under different circumstances.

Now Luxemburgo needs to prove that he is not a declining coach, with techniques that are too well known and even copied by others. After the recent vice-Paulista championship, Santos needs to show the fans, who expect to watch a competitive squad, what they came for.

Will it work? Only time will tell.

Alex Frutuoso

No comments:

Post a Comment