Gabriel Jesus and Ronaldo back Tite to remain in charge of Brazil despite World Cup exit
Friday's 2-1 defeat to Belgium saw the South Americans exit the tournament at the quarter-final stage. But players past and present say Tite is still the man to take the Seleção forward. Gary Meenaghan reports from Kazan
As the last Brazilian player, Renato Augusto, traipsed his way out of the Kazan Arena in the early hours of Saturday morning, the sun had already started to come up.
A new dawn, however, is unlikely to be called for by the country’s football federation. This was not one of those type of defeats.
The five-time champions may have exited the World Cup at the quarter-final stage, but it was not with a whimper like in 2010 nor a humiliating defeat like four years later on home soil.
Belgium were deserved 2-1 victors, Renato Augusto’s second-half header not enough to cancel out an early own goal by Fernandinho and a clinical strike not long after by Kevin de Bruyne.
Yet Brazil showed fight and focus throughout, despite sorely missing the defensive shield of Casemiro in midfield.
If you believe in such things, you might even say Brazil were unlucky. Thiago Silva struck the post, Paulinho failed to bundle into an empty net, and Thibault Courtois made a string of quality saves. Manager Tite, however, does not.
“I don’t like to talk about luck,” he said after the match. “When it is on our side, it is a polite way of putting down the opponent, so I don’t believe in it. Was Courtois lucky? No, he was great. It hit the woodwork, what can you do? Belgium were competent and effective.”
INTERACTIVE: World Cup wall chart
Brazil have now not reached a World Cup final for 16 years, rattling through seven managers since Luiz Felipe Scolari led them to a fifth title in 2002.
With each elimination has come a changing of the guard, including a return by Scolari ahead of 2014, but this time is likely to be different.
Tite, who before Friday’s last-eight tie had lost just once since taking the reins in 2016, said an evening of such high emotion was not the time to discuss his future.
The former Al Ain and Al Wahda manager remains popular among his players. However, that in itself is slowly developing into a criticism as the 57-year-old Brazilian tends to show loyalty towards specific players: Paulinho, Marcelo, and Gabriel Jesus to name three.
Gary Meenaghan: Tite tasked with keeping Brazil 'mentally strong'
Zlatko Dalic interview: I'm living my dream as Croatia manager
Gabriel Jesus had a disappointing game, struggling to make an impact and completing just nine passes before being replaced by Douglas Costa inside an hour.
Once tipped as the tournament top-scorer, he leaves Russia without a single goal, calling it “frustrating and difficult to accept”. Yet he is unequivocal in his assessment of his managerh.
“Man, if you take Tite’s record: 26 games now, two defeats, four draws and 20 victories,” the Manchester City striker added. “All of us Brazilians know the importance of Tite and the evolution he has made with us in terms of our football.
"My opinion is Tite is today the coach that has to remain with the Seleção.”
Two-time winner Ronaldo, now a pundit on Brazilian TV, agrees. “I believe Tite must remain,” he said. “He's a sensational guy and he's doing a phenomenal job, but he has to continue this work.”
Updated: July 7, 2018 10:50 AM