The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Parreira loses cool over defensive tag

Rio De Janeiro: For a man who has 170 million people closely analysing and usually criticising his every decision, Brazil coach Carlos Alberto Parreira is a remarkably cool customer.

Unlike his predecessor Luiz Felipe “Big Phil” Scolari, who appeared to experience every emotion known to man on the touchline as he ranted and gesticulated his way through matches, Parreira rarely bats an eyelid during games.

Instead, he sits quietly on the bench staring into space like someone waiting for the next bus. Only one thing, it seems, can upset a man who paints landscapes in his spare time and that is when people accuse his teams of playing defensively. Parreira led Brazil to their fourth World Cup title in 1994 yet is still criticised because, some commentators say, his team played negatively.

After he agreed to return to the hot seat earlier this year, commentators are again complaining that Parreira is being overcautious by fielding three defensive midfielders — Gilberto Silva, Emerson and Ze Roberto.

It makes the normally good-natured Parreira unusually agitated. “Our team has three — not two, like most teams in European football — forwards: Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Rivaldo,” he said. “They are three forwards. Or does anyone doubt that' Then we have two full-backs, Roberto Carlos and Cafu, who attack the whole time, plus another midfielder Ze Roberto, who has the freedom to go forward. How can you say this is a defensive team'”

Parreira says it is time to stop categorising teams as either defensive or attacking.

“I think a team has to be balanced,” he said. “You can’t just have a team of attackers or a team just of defenders. You have to look for balance.

“That is what I do. My teams are not defensive, nor offensive. I don’t know these words. I don’t know what they are. If you say my team does not attack, either you are not being honest or you don’t know about football.”

Parreira faced the latest wave of criticism after his side beat Ecuador “only” 1-0 in their last World Cup qualifier in September. Although the win put Brazil top of the South American qualifying group for the 2006 World Cup with a maximum six points from two games, the result failed to satisfy the demanding Brazilian public.

“When you win 1-0 and 2-0, they think it’s horrible. But that’s not the case. Our game against Ecuador was very difficult. They did well at the World Cup and it’s the same team and the same coach. They have the experience of a Cup. They will give everyone a hard time.”

“I think any big team from Europe will have a tough time playing here, qualifying in South America. Any of them.”

Despite the difficulties, he has no regrets about returning to the job where he has a chance to coach some of the world’s top players, including Ronaldo whom Parreira took to the 1994 World Cup as a 17-year-old. “I imagined he would be big. But he surpassed all my expectations. Today, he’s the big personality in world football,” said Parreira. “The great goalscorers are individualists. It’s a characteristic. And that’s why they’re great goalscorers. A player who wants to share will never be the world’s top goalscorer.

“Ronaldo is something apart. Ronaldo is Ronaldo, a phenomenon who decides matches. He doesn’t fit into any tactical scheme.” (Reuters)

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