Flamengo radio for help

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The Independent Online
Brazil is synonymous with sensational football but even Pele, Garrincha and Gerson would have had difficulty conjuring up anything on the pitch to compete with Flamengo's stunning move off it yesterday.

Brazil's best-supported club has responded to a third successive defeat for its multi-million-pound team by replacing the former Brazilian international Edinho as coach with a veteran radio commentator, who has no playing or coaching experience.

The appointment of the 59-year-old Washington Rodrigues is seen as a gamble by the club's president, Kleber Leite. He has put together a team that includes the pounds 7m Romario and Edmundo, a snip at pounds 5m, but has won only once this season.

Rodrigues took the move in his stride, saying: "It's a challenge I had to accept. History does not remember cowards."

The tempestuous Romario has promised to bury previous differences with Rodrigues, who often criticised him during commentaries. "Hopefully, this will give us the chance to get to know each other better," he said.

However, the Rodrigues reign hardly made an auspicious start. During his first training session yesterday, Romario collapsed, clutching his chest. Apparently he was suffering from a temporary nervous disorder.

The appointment left fans of the club in shock and incensed the Brazilian coaches' association, which intends to seek a court ruling banning Flamengo from employing Rodrigues.

The appointment is not without precedent. Herbert Chapman, the great manager of Huddersfield and Arsenal in the 1920s and 1930s, was succeeded at Highbury in 1934 by George Allison, who was a highly successful journalist. Allison, who played his football in parks, inherited a team that Chapman described as "played out" but took Arsenal to a third successive League title in his first season.