Brazilian club Flamengo have announced the departure of manager Paulo Sousa after less than six months in the job at Maracanã.
Sousa joined Flamengo in controversial circumstances in December, quitting his post with the Polish national team in the build-up to the World Cup play-off in order to take on the challenge in Rio de Janeiro. However, after just ten rounds of the new Brasileirão season Fla have made a change with the team languishing in 14th place.
The decision to move to Brazil at the turn of the year, which caused widespread resentment in Poland, was always likely to heap more pressure on Sousa in the already fragile nature of Brazil’s revolving-door coaching landscape. At the time of the move, Polish star Robert Lewandowski admitted to being “shocked and disappointed” by the news.
Sousa’s cause has hardly been helped further by the fact he was not the Flamengo fans’ first choice. Jorge Jesus, so successful with the club in 2019, was the preferred option among the supports, while Jesus himself added to the story when admitting he wanted Sousa’s job last month, for which he was roundly criticised.
Flamengo’s board have also attracted criticism for their lack of competent strategy, but ultimately Sousa falls on his sword after a dismal start to the new league campaign. Flamengo, who finished runners-up last term, are 14th in the 2022 Campeonato Brasileiro after back-to-back defeats at the hands of Fortaleza and Bragantino.
Sousa guided the team to their best-ever performance in the Copa Libertadores as they sailed through their group phase, but the former Portugal international had already lost some credit with observers having struggled in the traditional Paulista State Championships ahead of the new national league season.
Reports in Brazil and Portugal have now pointed to potential replacements, with another Portuguese possibly ready to step into the void after Jorge Jesus was confirmed at Turkish side Fenerbahce. Pedro Martins, who has won three consecutive Greek Super League titles with Olympiacos, has been contacted about succeeding Sousa according to O Jogo.
By Sean Gillen