Sheffield United
West Bromwich Albion
11:45 AM UTC
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 By Tim Vickery

Tite benefitting from Dunga's final good call as Brazil boss

If you want to appear tall, then the best way is to stand next to someone very short.

Two winning games into his reign, new Brazil coach Tite looms like a giant. Usually the man who chooses the Brazil team is the focus of constant criticism from his ever-demanding compatriots. For the moment, Tite is above all that -- but he did follow Dunga, whose nickname comes from "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves," and who was sacked after his side failed to qualify from their group in the recent Copa Centenario.

Dunga is the Portuguese name for Dopey. This may well apply, although the ex-coach could also be dubbed Angry, Downright Truculent or even Hopelessly Out of His Depth.

His career in charge of the five-time world champions is one of the more bizarre chapters in the history of the Brazilian game.

This is a country where, unlike Europe, taking charge of the national team remains the pinnacle of a coach's career. Dunga has done it twice -- between 2006 and 2010, and for nearly two years from after the last World Cup to the Copa in June.

His only other coaching job came in between, in charge of a Brazilian club Internacional for a few mediocre months. It is not easy to understand quite why this man was -- on two separate occasions -- deemed the ideal choice for the most prestigious job available to a Brazilian coach.

One thing is his trajectory as a player. Through sheer strength of personality Dunga turned himself from a competent holding midfielder, much criticised in the 1990 World Cup, to a top class performer with a fine range of passing who captained the side to success four years later, and who became the only known World Cup winning captain to hold aloft the trophy with a scowl of bitterness.

He had been motivated by the feeling that the world was against him. The urge for combat was his fuel -- which was fine for a player, OK for a captain, but dangerous for a coach. An emotionally unbalanced coach usually leads to an emotionally unbalanced team -- hence Brazil's collapse against the Netherlands in the 2010 World Cup quarterfinal, or Neymar's exaggerated attacks of petulance in Dunga's second spell.

Tite has stepped in and has recalled one of the world's great centre-backs in Thiago Silva, cast aside foolishly by Dunga. Tite has also brought back attacking left-back Marcelo, with whom Dunga never had an easy relationship. Suddenly, the ships are sailing in the same direction.

But Tite has been doubly fortunate. Firstly, because the comparison with the previous coach is highly favourable to him. Brazil's new boss is a class act. And he is also lucky to take over from Dunga at a time when his predecessor had finally seen the light.

Dunga wasted more than a year of his second spell, always looking over his shoulder, always worried, he treated an entire season of friendies as if they were World Cup finals, clocking up meaningless wins to shore up his job security but not changing an outdated model of play.

Last November, in the World Cup qualifier at home to Peru, he made an interesting change. He brought in midfielder Renato Augusto, then flourishing under Tite at Corinthians, and moved away from his stock 4-2-3-1.

Instead, Dunga fielded had a pair of central midfielders -- Renato Augusto and Elias -- capable of going up and down the pitch. The former is more of a passer, the latter more of a runner, breaking into the penalty area.

Outside them were two wingers, with a lone centre-forward. The system was anchored by a holding midfielder, who at this point was Luiz Gustavo. It could be seen as a 4-3-3.

Tite, who was also using the scheme after a prolonged study of European football, preferred to see it as a 4-1-4-1 -- a nomenclature which emphasised the extent to which the wide men could work back, and to which Renato Augusto and Elias could break forward.

Come the Copa, Dunga brought in another new element -- Real Madrid midfielder Casemiro became the holder, protecting the back four and initiating moves with a better range of passing than Luiz Gustavo.

All of this was in place before Tite took over. A far better coach with much more experience with the system, Tite was able to make his adjustments -- more emphasis on three man passing moves -- without having to start from scratch.

It helps explain why he was able to get off to such a good start -- wins away to Ecuador and at home to Colombia -- despite having so little time on the training ground.

Typically, Tite has given credit where it is due.

"It wasn't me who implemented 4-1-4-1," he said in a recent interview. "It was Dunga. I was critical of his appointment in 2014, I was against it. But that is his legacy."

Tite, as usual, comes across as a class act.

Tim Vickery covers South American football for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @Tim_Vickery.


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