Broken-hearted Brazil end Wanderley lust

Phil Vickery in Rio de Janeiro sees a nation turn on their coach
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The Independent Football

A group of women and children had been organised to greet Wanderley Luxemburgo as he landed in São Paulo after coaching Brazil to yet another fiasco, this time in the Olympic Games. They carried placards of support which ranged from the simple "We love you Wanderley" to the Soviet-style "We believe in you as a coach and as a citizen."

A group of women and children had been organised to greet Wanderley Luxemburgo as he landed in São Paulo after coaching Brazil to yet another fiasco, this time in the Olympic Games. They carried placards of support which ranged from the simple "We love you Wanderley" to the Soviet-style "We believe in you as a coach and as a citizen."

The ghastly scene brought comparisons with old women who are paid to wail at funerals. The rest of Brazil, though, will not mourn the passing of Luxemburgo. The risk to his security was such that he wasoffered a police van in which to leave the airport. Luxemburgo declined and instead made his getaway in a taxi, his wife giving the finger to the press as they sped off.

Luxemburgo's destination would seem to be obscurity. Tomorrow, the Brazilian FA president, Ricardo Teixeira, is giving a press conference where he is expected to announce the coach's dismissal.

Cheered in the streets on his appointment in August 1998, Luxemburgo has subsequently specialised in alienating a population that need little excuse to turn against the coach of the national team. The reasons for his failure were apparent from his first public utterings. "I come with the certainty that I'll be victorious" was his opening gambit, instantly revealing the "I won, we drew, you lost" mentality which permeated his reign. His inability to take responsibility for poor results proved costly. His players needed protection, instead, for all Luxemburgo's apparent arrogance, his endless changes in selection were often capitulations to the press.

On taking over he declared his first aim as "to draw up a macro-plan". The incessant techno-babble was the verbal equivalent of his expensive suits - a desperately forced attempt to present himself as sophisticated. Always anxious to remind people of his intelligence, he was prone to over-reach himself, beginning one lecture with a reference to "a French writer called Goethe".

The doubts about Luxemburgo were not helped when it recently emerged that he had falsified his age, and had represented a Brazil Under-20 side when he was really 22. He has also been found guilty of tax avoidance, with further charges still to be heard. The sums involved are huge, with his lawyers believed to be offering a settlement of around £700,000. There is a further allegation - as yet unproved - that the original source of the extra income was commission on the sale of players, an activity incompatible with his duties as a coach.

Already rocked by poor results in World Cup qualifying, this led Luxemburgo to the brink of dismissal. The Olympics, the only title Brazil have never won, represented a last chance to redeem himself.

But he made his task more difficult by declining to take the permitted three over-age players, a move designed to spite his old enemy Romario, who was desperate to go. The young players would have benefited from an experienced presence. Instead they were left to shoulder the burden alone. Their coach, his future at stake, only made them more nervous, and to make matters worse, he was at loggerheads with his star striker Ronaldinho Gaucho. It is hardly surprising that Brazil were a bag of nerves.

Nobody, though, could have foreseen their extraordinary defeat to the nine men of Cameroon in the quarter-final. The result led the former great Tostão to write Luxemburgo's epitaph: "If in victory it was already difficult to put up with the arrogance, lack of transparency and ethics, laziness and serious personal problems of the coach, it is not on to accept that he stays after two years of awful work and this historic disgrace."

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