The 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar will be the last time we see Tite in charge of the Brazilian national team. The 60-year-old Gaúcho-born tactician revealed his plans to step down following the end of the tournament in December, in what will amount to a farewell tour for one of the greatest managers to coach the five-time World Cup winners.
“I’m going until the end of the World Cup. I have no reason to lie here,” Tite revealed to Marcelo Barreto and Tim Vickery on “Redaçao SportTV” in Brazil.
The Tite effect
When you think of Brazil and their storied success on the international stage, it’s sometimes easy to forget or undervalue how successful the Tite era has been. How much of an impact has he made during his time as the Brazil men’s national team manager? The proof lies in the record-breaking numbers.
Tite was hired in 2016 to replace ex-Brazil captain Dunga following a disappointing run at Copa America Centenario in the United States where the Seleção failed to advance to the knockout stage in a group that featured Peru, Ecuador and Haiti. He inherited a team that started the qualifying cycle for the 2018 World Cup with nine out of 18 possible points through six games before he injected life into the program with younger faces such as Ederson, Casemiro, Gabriel Jesus and Roberto Firmino. The Liverpool forward scored 13 of his 17 international goals with his current coach at the helm. Real Madrid’s middle-of-the-park stalward made 54 of his 60 appearances for the amarelinha. Tite also brought veteran Thiago Silva back into the fold, the Chelsea defender who is still presently considered one of the best defenders in the world at the age of 37. As a result, he went unbeaten in his 12 games in charge that cycle (10 wins, two draws) and finished first with a 10-point cushion over Uruguay in Eliminatorias to cruise into the World Cup in Russia.
His first World Cup appearance was rather shaky, with an opening match draw to Switzerland and a nail-biting win over Costa Rica that required two stoppage time goals. After beating Mexico in the round of 16, Brazil suffered a shock defeat in a matched that featured two first-half goals from Belgium — an own goal and a Kevin De Bruyne wonder strike — and a second-half onslaught by the Seleção that was absorbed by Thibaut Courtois, who became the hero of the night with nine saves made. Brazil finished that night with 27 shots, 59 percent possession and 520 passes made. Just about every number was lopsided in their favor except for the final score — they finished with cumulative expected goal total of 2.28 to Belgium’s 0.37.
It’s safe to say that Brazil were destined for much more than a quarterfinal exit in Russia, and that’s partly why Tite agreed to an extension that would keep him around for another cycle a few weeks after that stinging defeat. He led his national team to 2019 Copa America glory on home soil a year later for his first major title at the helm. The tournament featured a lively 2-0 victory over their rival Argentina, thanks to goals from Jesus and Firmino, and a masterclass from the ageless Dani Alves. The Albiceleste returned the favor by defeating Brazil — again in home soil — in the 2021 Copa America final at the storied Maracanã Stadium to give Lionel Messi his first senior title for Argentina.
In command of the national team, Tite has 51 wins and just five losses in 70 games managed, putting him in the top five list of all-time winningest managers for Brazil. He could surpass Dunga, who’s got 57 wins, for third on the list with a strong finish to qualifiers and a positive World Cup campaign. Three of Tite’s losses have come at the hands of Argentina: (friendlies in 2017 and 2019, 2021 Copa America final). Tite-led Brazil teams have never lost a match by more than on goal. What’s possibly more surprising is that he’s never once lost a South American World Cup qualifying match in his career (27 games).
On his road to Qatar, Tite booked his ticket in November of 2021 with six games still remaining at the time. He has 12 wins and three draws in 15 qualifiers thus far. With three games to go, including a makeup game against Argentina ordered by FIFA’s Disciplinary Committee, he’s two wins away from breaking the all-time points record in South American qualifying. No team has ever finished the modern format of Eliminatorias in South America (10 teams, 18 matchdays) with a zero in the loss column.
Tite — who at the club level has won the Brasileirão, Copa do Brasil, Copa Libertadores and is the last manager to lead a non-European club to a FIFA Club World Cup title — expressed his desire to finish his coaching stint on top of the world: “I have won everything in my career, the only thing missing is a Mundial.”
Who will replace Tite?
By the time the 2022 World Cup starts on Nov. 21, Tite will have served the longest managerial stint in the history of the Brazilian national team at 2,346 days, surpassing Flávio Costa (2,255 days) who saw his first stint as manager come to end after the 1950 World Cup in Brazil where his side suffered the famous Maracanaço after blowing a 1-0 lead in the final against Uruguay, a match considered one of the most shocking upsets in the history of the sport.
And Tite may not be the only one leaving the national team at the end of the year as Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar has hinted in the past that he’s treating this as his last chance at winning the coveted World Cup trophy. Once the Qatar World Cup is behind us, we may be in for a new era of Brazilian football, with two of the most popular faces of the amarelinha possibly stepping away. The future may be bright for the young crop of players in the pipeline for the national team, but what about Tite’s successor? Most managers don’t get the chance to be around for two World Cup cycles, especially in Brazil where managers are impatiently sacked, which makes his departure is not all that surprising. So are there any candidate lined up?
Before taking the Barcelona job after he parted ways with Al Sadd in November of 2021, Xavi Hernández reveled that he passed up the chance of taking a role on Tite’s bench this past summer with the plans of becoming the natural successor. “We were having talks with the Brazilian federation,” Xavi said during his introductory press conference at Barcelona. “The idea was to be an assistant to [coach] Tite and to take over the squad after the Qatar World Cup, but my desire was to come to Barcelona.”
Tite revealed as much in his November press conference ahead of qualifiers when he told reporters that Rogério Caboclo, the now-suspended Brazilian FA chief, approached him about the idea last summer. “I told [Caboclo] yes, because as an assistant [Xavi] could bring in his on-pitch experience as a captain, all of his behavior as a leader, his knowledge and experience and ideas,” Tite said.
Ramón Platero in 1925 is the only true foreign manager to ever truly have the keys to the national team, and the Uruguayan only had it for 20 days and for three official matches. The only other instances have been from Joreca (Portuguese) in 1944 and Filpo Núñez (Argentina) in 1965 who made an fill-in appearance for a friendly.
The idea of a foreign manager for the Brazilian national team is one that has been toyed around with for years but never actually executed in the modern day. Pep Guardiola has publicly shown a desire to take the job one day and has hinted that his days at Manchester City will eventually come to an end, but no one expects him to walk away at the end of the season, let alone in December or January. What’s true, however, is that there has been a recent influx of Portuguese managers at Brazilian clubs, with Jorge Jesus winning the 2019 Copa Libertadores title for Flamengo and Abel Ferreira winning back-to-back Libertadores in 2020 and 2021 with Palmeiras. Jesus,, who made a name for himself at Benfica, is conveniently without a job right now after his stint Flamengo ended and would be a prime foreign candidate along with Ferreira.
Renato Gaúcho had success winning the Libertadores in 2017 with Grêmio but was considered a flop during a 142-day stint as the manager of Flamengo where he came up short in the Libertadores final against Ferreira’s Palmeiras. Renato, like Jesus, is on the market without a managerial job.
The sad reality is that the pool of Brazilian-born managers worthy of taking over this position is incredibly slim and as a result, the Brazilian FA may look to a former player to take the reigns if they don’t explore their options outside of Brazil. We’ve seen it happen before when Dunga was appointed manager and it wouldn’t be surprising at all to see it done again.
Whoever it ends up being, they’ll be replacing a legend in Tite, though just how hard those shoes will be to fill, won’t be determined until November in Qatar.