The embarrassment of the Gremista dystopia
Column by Marco Schwartz
Geromel, the 2017 Libertadores captain, with a lot of reason for mourning. Ph: Ricardo Giusti
Grêmio will be meeting the infamous Série B for the third time in 2022, inaugurating a whole new way of relegating a big club.
Big clubs going down a level is not something unusual in this country. Among the "G12", only Flamengo, São Paulo, and Santos have never seen Brazil's second tier, and half of them have seen it for more than a season.
What is new with the relegation of our Imortal Tricolor this season is the context. Most big clubs go under after years of accumulating debt and some months of delay in paying wages. So if there is one thing that we bring to the table in 2021, it is innovation.
When Romildo Bolzan was elected the club's president in 2014, plenty was said about reasoning the club's finances, and it worked for a while. After all, there is merit in lifting the 2016 Copa do Brasil and the 2017 Copa Libertadores after a 15 year titleless run. In harmony with the fans and with a lot of money in the bank, however, what followed the glory was an inexplicable attachment to financial reports.
Year after year, Grêmio accumulated cash by selling our best talents and replacing them with other clubs' garbage. That's the word: garbage.
With the scrapping of our squad, we entered an era of embarrassment, which the board had failed to realise. The humiliating 0-5 defeat at Flamengo in a Copa Libertadores semifinal was a signal of decay that Mr. Bolzan chose to ignore. As we let go our best players and replaced them by a bunch of morons who somehow think they were part of the winning squad by osmosis, we went only down from there, with another whooping Libertadores elimination (1-4 at Santos) and a terrible Série A run that has seen us drop from the title fight to 6th in the 2020 season.
Despite being a club legend, the manager Renato Portaluppi is also to be blamed. How many times did we have to see the pathetic scenes of him asking for unrealistic signings, and when the negotiations obviously broke down, he asked for players way past their prime as replacements?
In the end, we built a squad of "Friends of Renato", and no one could ever manage this squad after his departure. A bunch of spoiled 35 year-old brats, who claim to themselves the success of a team they were not part of. For these and many other reasons, the only club that paid integral salaries during the pandemic break will play the Série B in 2022.