Dorival Junior is the manager of Santos FC in the Brazilian equivalent of the Premier League. Santos are the 11th team that Dorival Junior has managed in just 7 seasons. He has jumped from club to club from a range of Brazilian leagues at an alarming rate. Santos hope that he will bring success to an underachieving team packed with Prima Donna’s who are now lead by the infamous Robinho. Santos were once a huge footballing force and with the likes of Pele and Pepe playing in the 1960’s, which are now known as the golden years. During this period Santos managed to win 8 championship titles and also held onto arguably the best Brazilian footballer to have ever lived. Since Pele’s retirement in 1974, only 2 championship titles have graced the Santos trophy cabinet. However, is Robinho the new Pele and is Dorival Junior the Brazilian “Special One?”
Dorival Junior has not managed 11 different clubs in only 7 seasons because of the sack. No, unlike in the UK not every manager leaves because of the boot. He has left clubs for different reasons but not many due to bad managerial skills. His managerial record is very good. In fact he managed to lead brazilian minnows Sau Caetano to the Campeonata Paulista finals, beating clubs such as the Corinthians and Sau Paulo along the way. However, in the final, a strong Santos team beat Junior’s minnows and Dorival Junior left to join Cruzeiro. Despite a promising start to the league campaign his team slipped down the table and barely qualified for the Copa Libatores and Dorival Junior was sacked. After a strong season with Vasco de Gama, Junior finds himself manager of a struggling Santos team who only managed 12th in the league last time around. Junior will have talent at his disposal with the likes of Robinho and Neymar as part of a relatively strong Santos team. These two combined beautifully to gift Robinho his first goal at the club on his “debut” since his arrival from Manchester City.
Robinho scored with an extravagant backheel after coming on as a substitute against Sau Paulo. However, manager Dorival Junior will hope for a more mature Robinho to emerge during his first season in charge. The new manager now has the added pressure of having a “super squad” which means they must perform. Although he has managed 11 clubs since 2003, Dorival Junior can still be considered a very inexperienced manager despite numerous successes throughout his managerial career. He has won multiple state football leagues with previous teams but has not managed a big club such as Santos. His first season in charge is going well at the moment with Santos finding themselves top of the Brazilian Premier Division.
Can he be considered one of the best outside the Premier League?
It is hard to determine whether Dorival Junior can de considered as one of the best managers outside the PL because Brazilian football is so different to what we enjoy here in England. The “beautiful game” is taken to a new level in south america where the emphasis is on skill and showboating as well as winning. A team such as Santos FC may be a first rate club in Brazil but pitch them up against Chelsea or Barcelona and they will be crushed. However, I do think this is the season that Dorival Junior can prove that he is a first rate manager. He has two world class players under his wing in Robinho and potentially Neymar and if they lead Santos to victory in the Campeonato Brasileiro Série A then praise will be heaped on to the manager. After a poor season last season, a championship win this season will give Dorival Junior’s mangerial record a much needed boost and maybe we will see him on european shores in the near future.