Which São Paulo Soccer Club the fan prefers? The 2020 season or the 2021 season?
The answer is not easy. There will be everything. And there are many angles that can be used in this debate. One of them, the one with the title, the one at the end of the line. Another is competitiveness, which the club aims for. You can look at it from the angle of the fan. How can it be seen from the angle of the institution.
The 2020 season ended, actually, in February 2021. But it’s amazing how two completely different São Paulos are. The one from 20 was that of Leco, Raí, Bird, Diniz and Daniel Alves. The 21 is from Casares, Belmonte, Crespo and a different cast – stronger, certainly, with several reinforcements.
If we look purely at the results of the two seasons, we have a tie: 2 to 2.
São Paulo 2020 played for the Brazilian title until the end, led a good part of the championship and had its first real chance to be national champion in more than a decade. São Paulo 2020 also reached the semifinals of the Copa do Brasil, eliminated against the Guild, after passing by Flamengo. It was the closest the club came to the title (unprecedented) in two decades. São Paulo 2021 has never competed in the Brazilian Nationals and turns the round just one point above the relegation zone. In the Copa do Brasil, he was eliminated in the quarterfinals, by Fortaleza, without having had many chances to pass.
The São Paulo 2021, however, was São Paulo champion – while the 2020 fell to Mirassol. And the one from 2021 advanced in liberators, falling only in the quarterfinals, against Palmeiras – the 2020 was eliminated in the group stage, with a small mitigation of having played in a much more complicated group, but later was also eliminated from the Sudamericana.
I always raise the same question in football, which applies to different cases and with different readings: What is better? To be champion and be relegated? In other words, experiencing the best and the worst? Or live in awe?
The answers, of course, vary. It depends on the club’s profile, the past, the prospects for the future. A drawdown can always be reversed. A title may never be repeated. But for giant institutions, downgrade is an irreversible blemish, while bonds can wait.
What is best for São Paulo? Leaving the queue and beating Paulistão, but raffle the season and no longer have anything to do with three months of games to go? Or follow the line, but consolidate again in the scenario of the biggest and compete with the big ones – his size – in the main championships?
If in two or three years São Paulo has not won any major title, will Paulistinha, always so despised by São Paulo in the past, have enough ballast? Or are we already talking in line again, because “State doesn’t count”? If São Paulo stays out of Libertadores-2022, will Paulistinha make up for the loss?
The fact is that the electoral transition with an ongoing season has done the club very bad. São Paulo had something that worked. And that began to be dismantled from January 1st. They took away the football director, who was fundamental for the coach and for the chemistry with the players, and started to mess with various things that are invisible to the public – departments of performance analysis, communication, etc. If the current board had taken a break for two months, it would possibly have caught a São Paulo Brazilian champion.
But not. He was a co-participant in the January meltdown. And then ran over processes to win an irrelevant title. It’s obvious that the heap of injuries and the team’s lack of fitness are the mend between the two seasons. São Paulo raffled Libertadores, Brasileiro and Copa do Brasil in the name of an end of line that would represent less weight on everyone’s back – but we already know how football is, there is no such thing as “calm to work”. The weight is already back.
São Paulo 2021 lifted a trophy, the least important championship you can win and which had two rivals especially bad and one disinterested. São Paulo 2020, on the other hand, competed for things that the fans didn’t even remember how they were.
It was, from my point of view, a more interesting team to watch, more consistent, stronger. Was the fan in trouble? Yes, it was the butterflies in my stomach of playing finals every week, big games. Is today? What motivates the São Paulo fans to turn on the TV to watch the Sunday match? And that’s going to be like that for three long months.
For a small club, a title (from São Paulo, whatever) is much better in the midst of bad years. For a giant club, consistency should be much better. Fight up there, even if the title takes a long time. I think that an institution like São Paulo did not have the right to raffle off the 2021 season, even if it gave its fans that ephemeral taste of an achievement.
Football, especially in Brazil, is made of sockets. After so many disastrous years, São Paulo had found a fit in 2020. Which is not to say that the same pieces will work the same in another place – Diniz just did poorly at Santos and there is no guarantee that, in Basque, along with Bird again, fate will be another. But, in São Paulo, there was a fit.
If the Casares administration ends up with only one title from São Paulo, can it be considered successful? Of course not. It is good, therefore, to reduce the talk-to-speech and quickly look for a new fit. Because São Paulo 2021 is, at the moment, a horror. That he won’t go down, but that at this moment he runs a serious risk of not fighting for a place at Libertadores. Seasons 2022 and 2023 have already started. And even the Corinthians it already has a more promising future than São Paulo.