Tite and Brazil
Brazilian Adenor Leonardo Bacchi, known as Tite, was a lower-tier Brazilian football professional player for twelve years before spending a decade in the same lower tiers as a manager. Part of his preparation was studying physical education as a youth under Luiz Felipe Scolari, the Brazilian National Team Coach who led Brazil to the 2002 World Cup championship and presided over the 2014 World Cup hosting debacle.
In 2001 Tite began coaching first-division team Gremio, and thereafter, with a couple of stops in UAE to coach two different teams for a year and a year coaching a second-division club, he has been a first-division coach. During those years he won titles at every level of Brazilian and South American club football.
In 2013 he left Corinthians, the team he led to national and continental glory, and took a sabbatical, refusing to coach for a year during which he studied the sport and its management, watching games and training sessions in Europe and South America and visiting such storied clubs as Real Madrid and Arsenal. He then returned to Corinthians to an encore taking the team to the best record ever recorded (at the time) in domestic national championship play, before he bowed out to take the reins of the Brazilian National Team.
In his years as head coach of the most storied national team in the world, Tite has amassed the best coaching results in team history with a 57W-14D-5L record with a +137-goal differential. The national team has won the Copa America 2019 and is preparing for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar having qualified undefeated from South America’s brutal 18-match marathon. And now comes his one undisputed, legacy-capping moment—Tite can and must lead Brazil to their sixth World Cup title.
Coming into the third consecutive cup at which the Brazilians were among the top few true pre-tourney favorites Tite has the squad to make it happen this time around. In 2018 he was at the helm but was hampered by the team’s over-reliance on its one superstar, Neymar, who had just recovered from foot surgery only to have Switzerland make World Cup history by fouling him 22 times in their group match—the most fouls ever committed against a single player in a single cup game. Even so, Belgium beat them 2-1 in the quarterfinals when a draw and extra time would have been the fairer result given what transpired on the pitch.
With the best offensive machine on the planet and one of the top five defenses in the world, the Brazilians only have themselves to blame if they do not lift the trophy in late December 2022. But it will be up to Tite, who will retire from national team coaching duties after Qatar, to goad them to the finish line. To ensure Ney’s maturity for the month approximates his talent; to ensure the players are in a good place mentally to finish off opponents regardless of their stature; and ultimately, to encourage the guys on the pitch to do what they have been doing for years now, without paying attention to the media or fearing any official FIFA intervention will put the cup out of reach.
Photo: Tite, Dreamstime.com ID 104928453, by Andre Ricardo