Zagallo criticises decision to sack Menezes
Brazilian football legend Mario Zagallo on Tuesday criticised the Brazilian Football Federation (CBF) for summarily sacking Mario Menezes as national coach and replacing him with 2002 World Cup winning handler Luiz Felipe Scolari.
Zagallo, who won the World Cup twice as a player in 1958 and 1962 and then became the first World Cup winning player to go on and win it as a coach in 1970, said it had not been the moment to dismiss Menezes less than two years from the five-time world champions hosting the World Cup finals.
Menezes, 50, took over from Dunga following the 2010 World Cup finals and had come under intense pressure after the team's failure at the 2011 Copa America, where they were defeated in the quarter-finals, and at the Olympic Games in London this summer when they lost in the final to Mexico.
However, the CBF waited until November 23 to sack him and replaced him with the charismatic 64-year-old Scolari last week.
"With regard to what happened to Menezes, I don't think anyone could have predicted that he was going to be sacked," said Zagallo, who also played an influential backroom role in Brazil's 1994 World Cup triumph.
"Things were getting better, all the Brazilians were under that impression, but it is the CBF who take such decisions, but for me it was not the moment to remove Mano Menezes."
Zagallo, 81, also said that Santos striker Neymar, the player Brazil are pinning huge hopes on in helping them win the 2014 World Cup, lacked role models he could look up to in the squad which could blunt his development.
"Neymar is a great player, but he is a boy, he is 19 years old, and he lacks people he can look up to," said Zagallo.
"Pele (who was 17 at the 1958 World Cup), had for instance players to inspire him such as Garrincha, Vava, or even Zagallo," he said with a laugh.
Neymar, though, lacked someone who could lend him an experienced hand.
"Neymar, he is a top player, he is playing well, but he needs someone beside him, he needs experience."