The Peixe are closer to relegation than the Serie A summit, and the coach believes that the unavailability of Brazil's Olympic star has hit the team hardSantos boss Muricy Ramalho has admitted that the absence of Neymar has left a big hole in his team, as the Brazil star continues to enhance his profile at London 2012.
The 20-year-old forward hit the net in both of the Selecao's Olympic clashes to date, helping his side to victories over Egypt and Belarus which secured qualification for the quarter-finals with a game to spare. The Peixe, meanwhile, languish in 16th place in the Brasileirao and find themselves just one point clear of the relegation zone after 13 fixtures.
Team-mate Ganso is also in the Olympic squad, while goalkeeper Rafael suffered an injury during tournament preparations and is another absentee for the 2011 Copa Libertadores winners. According to Muricy, however, it is Neymar who is missed most as the club fail to meet expectations domestically.
"If he makes the difference for the national team, can you imagine how much Santos need him? He scored, he passed well. Our players recognise [Neymar's] importance," the former Sao Paulo trainer told reporters following Sunday's 2-1 win over Ponte Preta.
"It is great to win, but you cannot say that a star like Neymar will not be missed. We depend on our superstars, on him and on Ganso as well."
Goals from Bruno Peres and Ezequiel Miralles fired Santos to three points at the weekend, securing victory for only the second time this season as they continue to flirt with the drop zone.