By Matthew Burgess, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – Despite the lack of domestic football during the South Africa World Cup, Rio’s big four clubs have continued to make the headlines throughout the week, and none more so than Vasco da Gama.
The under-performing São Januário-based club were forced to look for a new coach last week, after it emerged that Celso Roth had unexpectedly decided to end a mere five-game tenure at the club, to join Copa Libertadores semi-finalist’s Internacional (international).
Having only joined Vasco on June 18th, Roth guided Vasco to one win, one draw and three defeats before his shock exit.
Vasco moved quickly to seek a replacement, appointing the well travelled Paulo César Gusmão – a former player at the club – as their fourth coach of the season. PC Gusmão, as he is more commonly known, leaves Ceará to join the Cruzmaltino, after impressively leading the newly promoted side to second place in the early rounds of the Brasileirão.
The 48 year-old coach takes over from Celso Roth, Gaúcho and Vágner Mancini, who have all been unable to turn around Vasco’s poor form this year.
Amidst the unexpected restructuring of their coaching staff, Vasco also confirmed the re-signing of left sided midfielder Felipe from Al-Saad in Qatar. The 32 year returns to Vasco after enjoying a highly successful spell at the club during the late nineties, where he won two Brasileirão titles, the Copa Libertadores and the Carioca title, and will be formally presented to the media on Wednesday.
Vasco have also added Paraguayan right back Irrazábal to their ranks, whilst young midfielder Sousa moves to Portuguese giants Porto.
Fluminense, the most impressive of the Carioca teams so far in the Brasileirão, have also added to their squad, as striker Emerson returns to Brazil following a spell in the Middle East.
Emerson, who had a brief but successful stint at Flamengo last year, had been widely expected to return to the Rubro-Negro, but financial restrictions saw Fluminense pip their rivals to his signature.
The addition of Emerson – widely known as ‘Shrek’ – to the Tricolor raises further questions over the future of current striker Fred. Reports linking the Fluminense captain with a move to Napoli remain rife, whilst talks to extend his contract ended in a stalemate last week despite the player claiming he is happy to remain in Rio.
Finally, after giving up their pursuit of São Paulo’s Cléber Santana, Muricy Ramalho’s side have instead contracted Atlético-PR’s Colombian midfielder, Valencia on a two year deal.
Over in Gávea, Flamengo continue to struggle to add to their depleted squad, whilst also running the risk of losing further players. Bruno, Léo Moura, Juan and David all face uncertain futures at ‘Mengo, as Zico continues his fight to keep Vágner Love at the club. An agreement with CSKA Moscow appears distant, with the Russian’s demanding that Flamengo triple their €5 million offer to extend his stay beyond the current loan period.
As for Botafogo, Brasiliense’s Jobson has finally been reunited with the side. After rescuing Botafogo from almost certain relegation last year, Jobson was later hit for a lengthy suspension for doping but having rehabilitated himself, the striker has rejoined the Fogão despite interest from Flamengo.