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Scolari charms to take top billing

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Phil McNulty | 17:16 UK time, Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Cobham

Luiz Felipe Scolari arrived between adverts for a "Legends Of Swing Tribute Night" and a Tom Jones impersonator - but there was only one man claiming top billing at the hotel in deepest Cobham.

And that was Chelsea's new coach as he capped his coronation with a glittering performance of charm, passion and a command of the English language that made mugs of us all.

Scolari pitched his arrival neatly between the swagger and self-confidence of Jose Mourinho and the under-stated humility of Avram Grant.

It was a combination that worked to perfection and made this a very good day for Chelsea's hierarchy, who sat and looked justifiably elated with their new man's first public outing.

Scolari cut a calmer figure than when I have seen him previously, stripped of his trademark tracksuit and encased neatly inside a smart suit and club tie.

He arrived to the predictable barrage of flashbulbs - and kept a surprise up his sleeve for when the cameras went away.

Scolari not only answered questions directly and almost always unhesitatingly, he answered them in excellent English, a skill he has shrewdly kept under wraps until he needed it most.

He had a female interpreter on hand for help, but she was not needed until he was tested with a question about whether he would like to see Cristiano Ronaldo leave Manchester United.

Scolari, perhaps sensing dangerous territory, checked the wording before delivering a most emphatic denial that he had ever interfered in Ronaldo's decision-making process - an answer that may, or may not, allay any suspicions harboured by Sir Alex Ferguson.

He still had all the glorious wild facial expressions and tic-tac hand movements that made him such a colourful figure as coach of Brazil and Portugal, but it appears he keeps his full fire for the touchline.

Luiz Felipe Scolari

And as he gained in confidence, the eyes danced a little more and the hands waved with greater animation, a sign of the true Scolari perhaps.

He laughed off the idea of pressure with the words "when you are coach of Brazil...." and claimed the only heat he felt was coming from his need to show off his grasp of English under the public gaze.

It was so good he even found time for a joke against his interpreter when she hesitated over a translation.

"She is more afraid than me," he said in a flash - so much for the man we so ignorantly announced might struggle to leap over the language barrier.

There was none of the bluster I had witnessed from Scolari at close quarters with Brazil and Portugal. He was composed, assured and confident.

The Scolari I saw in Japan, Portugal and Germany appeared to be a man on the edge, capable of grand gestures and indulging in melodrama - including once offering to marry the entire Portugal FA - metaphorically speaking of course.

He was also a man of the people. I well recall the contrast between Portugal's humble media base when they were the host country and the circus of self-importance that trailed along in England's wake.

Visitors, particularly youngsters, were welcomed by Scolari and he showed a genuine common touch that I believe will appeal to Chelsea's supporters as he grows into his new job.

Of course there was also that madcap edge to his character, but let's not carp about that - let's embrace it as another great addition to the Premier League.

Here is a man Ferguson will not bully or psyche out. He's seen the old tricks before and has used a few of them as well.

But here we had Scolari the serene, Scolari setting out his hopes and ambitions for his new paymasters and supporters.

This did not look like a coach who cuffed an opposition player - this was a coach with a clear vision for Chelsea, but there lurked the underlying threat that this was a man with an unmistakeable winning mentality.

Of course he spoke of the "beautiful football" that owner Roman Abramovich (or "Mr Roman" as Scolari called him) wants to see at Stamford Bridge, but he was quick to remind us of his pragmatic side.

Scolari, above all, wants winning football and will adopt whatever tactics it takes to get it.

He was not simply on a charm offensive, he was full of positive news for Chelsea fans who wanted a check on the futures of their star players.

Frank Lampard wants to stay for years. Didier Drogba was "200%" part of his plans. John Terry was his captain. Lampard was not just staying, he was still vice-captain.

And of course, correctly, he announced he was indeed "The Special One." And as a World Cup winner with Brazil in 2002, why shouldn't he be?

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However, unlike the great Jose, he was not a special one to himself, Scolari was special for his friends, family and country.

And his country had come to Cobham to see him in the shape of Brazil's media, along with representatives from Portugal, Spain and Italy.

But is he special as a coach? "So so" said the Modest One.

This was a big day for Chelsea and one they can be pleased with. They needed good news and a fresh start after ending last season empty-handed and receiving criticism for the ruthless sacking of Avram Grant.

Scolari's performance provided it and Chelsea's top brass looked suitably pleased.

Chief executive Peter Kenyon and members of Scolari's backroom staff - including the surviving Steve Clarke - took front row seats with the media and left the top table spotlight to Scolari.

He basked in it comfortably and Chelsea will now hope he will adjust as quickly to the heat of Premier League battle against the men who will be his closest adversaries, Ferguson and Arsene Wenger.

Comments

Page 1 of 2

  • Comment number 1.

    Força Scolari! you can do well!

  • Comment number 2.

    mr potato head is trying too hard to be like mouribho and its embarrasing. this guy will be a failure like the previous joker.

  • Comment number 3.

    how much did chelsea pay you to write that? obviously liverpool haven't been offering you enough lately (as with their transfer valuations, of course)

  • Comment number 4.

    I believe this guy has the ability to forge a strong team mentality and old whiskey nose and whinger will be worried especially if he holds onto Drogs and Lamps and adds one more quality player... I think he will account for plenty of press, it's all good.

  • Comment number 5.

    Phil,

    A question if I may: how on earth has Scolari fooled all the British media by keeping his English language ability so quiet? I am really quite staggered by this article.

  • Comment number 6.

    Staggered as you may, astounded as you will.

  • Comment number 7.

    Fantastic article, it has wet my appetite for the forthcoming season. I particularly liked the way Wenger and Ferguson were the only managerial premiership opposition deemed worthy of mention. As a Chelsea fan, I can confirm that the other members of the 'big three' are indeed the most significant source of worry.

  • Comment number 8.

    "He basked in it comfortably and Chelsea will now hope he will adjust as quickly to the heat of Premier League battle against the men who will be his closest adversaries, Ferguson and Arsene Wenger."

    What a surprise - no mention of Rafael Benitez - a coach who was the nemesis of Mourinho in Europe and whose Liverpool side have finished above Arsene Wenger's Arsenal team twice in his four years in England. Will he not be one of Scolari's closest adversaries? Your anti-Liverpool agenda (following that shocking article on Gareth Barry) is becoming quite tiresome.


  • Comment number 9.

    "There was none of the bluster I had witnessed from Scolari at close quarters with Brazil and Portugal. He was composed, assured and confident.

    The Scolari I saw in Japan, Portugal and Germany appeared to be a man on the edge, capable of grand gestures and indulging in melodrama - including once offering to marry the entire Portugal FA - metaphorically speaking of course."

    So one press conference - one which Scolari and Chelsea have probably been rehearshing for weeks - is enough for you to completely change your perception of the man?

    As for being "composed, assured and confident" - wouldn't you be the same if you were on the same mind-blowingly enormous wage that Scolari is undoubtedly receiving? When someone pays you that much, you start to believe you're some kind of god and that inevitably shows in your body language.

    Anyway, I can't wait to read your blogs around Christmas time, with Chelsea 3rd-4th in the league and Scolari's job hanging by a thread. Will your head still be hidden somewhere in his vast tracksuit bottoms or will you follow the rest of your chums in a good ol' media-led character assasination?

  • Comment number 10.

    Ha ha sheppast - how many European Cups have Chelsea won again? Or league titles for that matter? Bitterness and jealousy is not an attractive trait...

  • Comment number 11.

    At 6:55pm on 08 Jul 2008, electrifyingNeilD wrote:
    Your anti-Liverpool agenda (following that shocking article on Gareth Barry) is becoming quite tiresome.
    ---------------------------------------------------------

    What's that I hear, a scouser who "always has it harder then anyone else!" Yeah its getting old, though not as old as the last league trophy you have! ;)

    Lets not start to judge him in a positive or negative light until he's got 20+ games under his belt. Good luck to him and I hope he can take us to great things!

  • Comment number 12.

    He might have the charm of Mourinho and humility of Grant but he could end up been the Brazilian version of Christian Gross.

    This is a big moment in the Chelsea Ambramovich reign. He can sign all the Robinho's, Ronaldinho's and Deco's of this world but he will have to turn to the likes of Lampard and Terry to lead Chelsea.

    The fraility of Cech should be a worry and the mindset of Drogba if he does stay. Who will take Malouda, Anelka, Wright-Phillips and of course the enigma Shevchenko. Chelsea shot theirselves in the foot by getting rid of Mourinho and i don't see how this man can top even Avram Grants achievements after taken over from Jose.

    Chelsea fans can be all happy about his appointment but there should some sceptism. Time will tell. This time next year we could be talking about another new Chelsea manager if Scolari doesn't match at least a Champions League Final.

  • Comment number 13.

    One of the burdens of being a journalist is having to write articles even when there's nothing to write about.....as in here.

    A professional football manager giving a press conference...and the story is?

    It probably merits a column somewhere, but a blog??

  • Comment number 14.

    'What a surprise - no mention of Rafael Benitez - a coach who was the nemesis of Mourinho in Europe and whose Liverpool side have finished above Arsene Wenger's Arsenal team twice in his four years ...'

    Give it a rest, you do yourself no credit.

    Like it or not, Ferguson and Wenger are recognised as the two leading managers in the Premiership, by dint of Premiership titles and longevity.

    Be honest, Liverpool's last season was disappointing (whatever the causes / circumstances) - I'm sure more so to you guys than anyone else. Coming into the new season, Benitez knows that a bad start and his job could well be under threat once more (see Klinsmann episode previously) that is why he is not automatically seen as Scolaris number one or two rival.

  • Comment number 15.

    "He basked in it comfortably and Chelsea will now hope he will adjust as quickly to the heat of Premier League battle against the men who will be his closest adversaries, Ferguson and Arsene Wenger."




    Man Utd fan here, I think Phil went over the top here, he should have included Rafa who has achieved more than Wenger in the last four years.

  • Comment number 16.

    Scolari's greatest adversary will be the insipid and weasly Peter Kenyon when Mr. Roman informs him to sack Mr. So-So after a run of poor results.

    We've all been here before. Don't build your hopes up.

  • Comment number 17.

    With the departure of Jose Sir Alex slept much better...with the arrival of Big Phil I think he will have trouble sleeping again!

  • Comment number 18.

    Sorry Phil McNulty but to say Scolari's grasp of the English language 'makes mugs of all of us' is laughable. His English is just good enough and no more, and it will only improve. I do agree that he has a strong chance of success. Lets hope Ferguson, the main reason I have so much passion for the game, has another few tricks up his sleeve to reign victorious once again.

  • Comment number 19.

    Not only Sir Alex, Arsene will have trouble sleeping too. Phil is a coach that can't be intimidated by anyone and knows how to get the best out of his players. In all the teams he has coached before he has had the respect of the players. The premier league is in for another wonderful ride.

  • Comment number 20.

    I gave up reading this, the article is far to long.

  • Comment number 21.

    good god, you bunch of moaners, you want to try being a sunderland fan, praying we,ll still be in the premiership next season instead of worrying how good his english is, or if fergie or arsene are worried about scolari, thats not worry believe you me!!!

  • Comment number 22.

    Preferred him in The French Connection to his Lex Luthor in Superman II. Should be OK in London football i.e. good for a laugh. Keep spending those Roubles Josef Varissionovich Djugashvili

  • Comment number 23.

    You shouldn't take much notice in him not mentioning rafa at the end he was just giving examples. it just made better reading to only include two names, perhaps he should have listed every manager down to division 3 so there will be no stupid petty comments or people looking for something to moan about.


    b1g-a1 was right though when he said everyone who support the big teams are worried about little details for example how well they can speak english when teams like sunderland are surviving for their lives.
    its like a multimillionare stressing whether to wipe his backside with 10 or 20 pound notes.

    when you expect to be in the race for the title it could always be a lot, lot worse.

  • Comment number 24.

    Scolari seems like a buffoon in the mould of Benitez. Surely he can't be as inept as the Goatee man, but don't bet against it

  • Comment number 25.

    The man hasn't managed a club side for some time, 2001 I believe. I think the Jury is well and truly out on Scolari until he has had time at the helm. It is not a simple process to transform relative success at international level to club football (I say relative as, in my opinion, he should have won something with Portugal, particularly the 2004 Euros).

    It will be interesting to see how he handles the media once the honeymoon is over and the knives come out, as it the English medias way.

  • Comment number 26.

    I have met Scolari, he gave a motivational speech at a business conference. He created an uproar with his anecdotes about coaching the Brazilian players, he is a very funny man.
    He is also an excellent manager, he did it all at club level before moving into international management.
    And to cap it all he made a monkey out of Mourinho every time they exchanged words iwhen Mourinho was in Porto.
    Once when Mourinho complained that Scolari never came to watch his players, Scolari replied " If you want me to watch your players find a club closer to Lisbon" :)

  • Comment number 27.

    Who is the "we" you refer to when writing about not knowing Scolari could sepak English well?

    Would that be the ignorant press, by any chance.
    The self same ignorant press, that you yesterday wrote the blog about saying Redknapp was just a wheeler dealer?
    Phil, your blogs get more outlandish everyday.
    This one is a like a rhapsody to Chelsea. You are trying to re-invent them as a lovable club.
    Sorry pal, even if Michael Caine took the reins, everyone outside of west London would still see them as a billionaires folly.

  • Comment number 28.

    1

  • Comment number 29.

    No shock to see that my Licence fee is keeping yet another hack journalist in work. At least if I don't like a paper I can stop buying it. With BBC Sport Football, though, I feel obliged to read it even when it is drivel like this - I do pay for it, after all.

  • Comment number 30.

    I'd put a different slant on it. Chelsea face an extremely challenging time right now and its no wonder Scolari has used his charm to mask the deep troubles ahead. Lampard and Drogba at the exit door, John Terry's moral hit really hard by that CL final defeat as well as being stripped of the England captaincy. Add to that the big ego's fighting one another on the pitch as we saw last season, and the unknowns of a new manager in a new setting. There's also a precedent hanging over Scolari 's head like a hammer. Fail to win the champions league and he is sacked. It happened Grant, that's only example we have to go by. Grant also dragged Chelsea into a PL winning position that went to the wire after their league form dipped when JT was injured in early mid season. The record shows what Grant achieved in such a short time, but not good enough for Chelsea. Scolari may have charm, but will he have a job next May with the massive challenges ahead for him at Chelasea and a press pack on his back every minute of the way?

  • Comment number 31.

    Sorry for being honest and admitting Scolari's excellent command of English came as a surprise - go on admit it, it did to almost everyone.

    Some of you need to ease up a little. Just because I don't mention a specific club or manager doesn't mean there is an agenda.

    I await the day when I praise Liverpool and get stick from Everton fans...it's happened before.

    As for someone suggesting Scolari might be another Christian Gross, what premature nonsense.

    I can only imagine the abuse I would have got if I had come on here and said that.

    He is a World Cup winner so we should afford him full respect and give him an opportunity to prove himself at Stamford Bridge.

    I gave my honest opinion of his conference and found him very impressive.

    I will be back at my desk in the morning to continue this debate...keep it coming and keep it nice and constructive.

    Feel totally free to criticise as well as praise, but let's stick to Scolari.

  • Comment number 32.

    He is "the coach"!!

  • Comment number 33.

    Thank you for not calling Liverpool a title contender.

  • Comment number 34.

    It seems this blog has upset United, Liverpool, and Arsenal fans equally but for different reasons. Liverpool are peeved because Phil seemed to ignore them. United and Arsenal because they had hoped Chelsea might implode, but Phil's blog has
    reassured many that Scolari is not here for an eamsy ride and understands the challenge ahead, but more importantly he already knows the players he wants to stay because they will help to maintain Chelsea's momentum. Lampard is still key to this and it will upset many that Scolari values him. Many
    in the media have perhaps sought to undermine Scolari before he even started but his performance today has given them something far tougher to chew on.

  • Comment number 35.

    Good article. I don't always agree with Mr McNulty, but always an interesting read.
    Looking down at some of the comments so far, it's quite staggering how so many idiots (nearly always fans of the big 4, and mostly of liverpool) seem to detect bias against their club in these blogs. I mean really... why the hell should an article on Scholari be anti Liverpool because it doesn't mention Benitez? The mind boggles.... keep up the good work Phil!

  • Comment number 36.


    By the way, It seems the media have a new character to write and obsess about.
    Perhaps not as handsome and arrogant as Jose, but equally charismatic and probably the most successful manager to arrive in the PL to date. Many will relish the prospect of his success and many more are waiting in the long grass for any signs of weakness. Either way Chelsea appear certain to dominate the sports pages. Phil's blog captures this sense of expectation on all sides and more importantly Scolari's understanding of what to expect and the professionalism he is capable of.

  • Comment number 37.

    Well done Chelsea, we have an EXTRA SPECIAL ONE!

  • Comment number 38.

    Great article. Shame about the typical liverpool fans. Feeling as if everyone is against them and consistently believing they are going to challenge for the title when year after year they fail to produce. I do not believe Phil left any mention of Liverpool out due to bias or dislike for the club. However it was a perfect finish to a very well presented article. A very good read Phil. Thank you.

  • Comment number 39.

    there really are some silly pool fans on here. the world isnt against you, you just havent been good enough domestically. that is a fact.
    also who was the mug who said he would be a new christian gross? you really dont know much about football. he's a born winner. i'm hoping united dont rest on their laurels too much. a scolari led chelsea will be fearsome this season.

  • Comment number 40.

    I'm not convinced. This is the man who said:'They were playing with 5 midfielders, and we had two wingers, so we didnt know what to do' after one of the Portugal games in the EUROs. He does know he's coming to England, right?

  • Comment number 41.

    Deary deary me. This article says a lot more about little Phil wot wrote it than it does about Big Phil himself.

    "Chelsea's new coach ... capped his coronation with a glittering performance of charm, passion and a command of the English language that made mugs of us all."

    Made mugs of you all indeed, if you all went off to file starry-eyed, 1000-word man-crushes like this.

    Made mugs of you all, if you all let slip how much you had been looking forward to painting him as a big, crazy, foreign buffoon.

    No chance of perspective from these "mugs" who are so susceptible to glamour; so caught up in the perfect deliciousness of their insider status, that they could even consider describing a football manager's press conference as a "glittering performance".

    Good luck Scolari, you'll need it if you ever upset these idiots and they decide it's time to punish you.

  • Comment number 42.

    please frank if you read this page dont leave mate, next season will be class
    weve got the midfield magic again we'll be
    unstopable.

  • Comment number 43.

    has anyone got a sort of clue as to what the new england boss is gonna be like !
    are we gonna win anything or what !!!!

  • Comment number 44.

    come on i'm bored talk footy with me !!!!

  • Comment number 45.

    I knew it had been rehearsed when he referred to Chelsea as one of the biggest clubs in the world, just as that Champions League Loser's Medal winner Kenyon had instructed him to.
    They're not even one of the biggest clubs in England Phil.

  • Comment number 46.

    Of course the jury has to be out on Scolari to an extent - and I agree there is also an element of gamble in the appointment of a man who has not been in club football for many years.

    But his track record and reputation should not be ignored, and having been sent to get a first impression of Scolari, it was a good one.

    I sense an element of disappointment in some people that I have not been more negative about him.

    I thought he came across very well.

    What do you all feel about the developments in the Lampard saga?

  • Comment number 47.

    Within two minutes of Solari being appointed, a quick search of the BBC web site came up with the article "Scolari rejects language concerns", accompanied by a BBC radio interview in English. It's from 2006 when he was asked about the England job.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/4636890.stm

    Hence I, and many others, were not surprised by Scolari's English.

  • Comment number 48.

    The readers of your article weren't disappointed that you were not more negative about him, what you didn't do, like most other journalists, is give a balanced view. You don't question why Chelsea appoint a manager that hasn't managed a top european team and won trophies in Europe. Yes he has won the world cup with Brazil, but a lot of other mediocre managers could have done that also with the players he had.

    Also, you state his command of the English language made mugs of all of us. Please get it right, his command of the English language made mugs of the English media who always think they know everything.

  • Comment number 49.

    To University red... "Yes he has won the World Cup with Brazil, but a lot of other mediocre managers could have done that also with the players he had."

    What a mean-spirited and negative attitude that demonstrates.

    True, he had great players such as Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Rivaldo, but plenty of coaches have had great players and never won a World Cup.

    Rinus Michels was a fantastic coach in charge of a fantastic team from the Netherlands in 1974 and he never won the World Cup.

    It is difficult to put a negative spin on a coach winning a World Cup, but you have had a good go.

    Let's not forget Brazil were actually in danger of not qualifying for the World Cup when he was appointed in 2001.

    Time will tell if he is a mediocre coach, but to suggest lots of mediocre coaches could have won that tournament in 2002 is nonsense.


  • Comment number 50.

    As it turns out, he may have been lying about Lampard....so he's still making mugs out of the English media. Oh, talking of Lampard - does transfer saga of the summer spring to mind?? Barry and Liverpool has been a very brief affair compared to this!

  • Comment number 51.

    Phil - would just like to say keep up the good work. Whilst i find reading your blogs interesting usually, i more love them for the animosity they ALWAYS create from Liverpool fans.

    I usually thought it was the players and manager of a club that try to foster an "us against the world" spirit to win games (a la Mourinho and Ferguson) but the Liverpool fans on your blogs always take this to a new dimension. No matter what you write about, it always seems to be derogatory to them.....in their own minds.

    Keep up the good work, I just love reading your blogs to laugh at the whining Scousers.....

  • Comment number 52.

    man utd fan ere in peace

    i like big phil

    hes a man who takes charge and wont be bullied and i think roman all ready knows that, so we might be seeing roman taking a backseat 4 longer this time.

    and big phils appointment can only be gd 4 the prem, a new challange 4 fergie, a new exciting rivalry, so i say let the games begin, soz scoucers but ur just not a threat anymore, no team fears u like they used 2, rafa did great things in 1st season, but since then all gone pretty much down hill.

  • Comment number 53.

    The bile from the Man U and Liverpool fans is quite shocking if you're not used to it. It's as if the more successful they are, the more embittered they become. This is a good insightful article, but they can't see past it. You've both got fantastic teams, so why not now get a life?
    My grandfather used to despair for the days when good football got applauded by all - the M62 may as well be running through no-man’s land the way these two are at war with themselves and increasingly every other football team approaching their success.
    Very, very sad.

  • Comment number 54.

    United fan also here in peace, I think its a good move for Chelsea and the league as a whole, to loose the charm of Mourinho and the dry whit of Eriksson in a season is a real shame and I think the appointment of big Phil will bring some more comedy and pantomime to the up-and-coming season.

    I also think he'll do a damn good job for you as well.

    As for the Liverpool fans harping on about an anti-Liverpool agenda.... lets look at the facts, form a mini league table for the last few years, top 4 vs top 4 and you'll see that you have been bottom of it for several seasons. Yes you might beat one of us this season, but Arsenal, Chelsea and United take more points off you than you do them....

  • Comment number 55.

    Most of the punters on here make me laugh. Phil McNultys job is to provoke a response, i think he has got one especially from the Liverpool fans.

    I agree with him 100% that Liverpool have been nowhere near close to challenging for the league under Benitez and should not be considered as main challengers.

    Liverpool have 1 or world class players but a world class team - hardly.

    As for Scolari - I can't wait for it all to really kick off, he will mix it up and wont be frightened to throw a few coffee cups about the dressing room baby Drogba wont get away with half the rubbish he has done over the last year or so.

    With Chelseas superstars they need a firm hand, Scolari has shown he can be good fun (even if it is rehearsed) and IMO this can only be good for Chelsea

  • Comment number 56.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 57.

    Can't You Just see Portugal in The Premier League??

    Deco
    Bosignwa
    Carvallho
    Ferraira

    (spellings bad!)

    Etc...

    Ronaldo at chelsea i really woud'nt be suprised!

  • Comment number 58.

    crikey

    i do think some people need to relax a little here, as has been said by a few more level-headed posters.

    firstly, until benitez and liverpool comes closer to winning a premiership title, i think it is fair to omit him in a list of contenders. granted they may be a good cup team but do many people here really believe liverpool will win next season? or the next? (would be nice for a change if they did but they wont)

    secondly, by "that made mugs of us all" i am pretty sure Mcphil meant the journalists so relax, breathe, he's not insulting our english, just his and his coleagues preconceptions of scolari.

    finally, i fail to see a problem with the article. its an opinion, a blog indeed, and although it might not be my or your opinion, its worth a good discussion. it will be exciting to have big phil in the premiership, and interesting to see if he can reajust to club football. i think he will and bring on next season! hopefully this time we can do the double over chelsea...

    keep up the good work Mcphil!


  • Comment number 59.

    For the sake of those who have got rather worked up about my failure to include Rafael Benitez as one of Scolari's main rivals, I will say this once and end this particular strand of the debate.

    I was clearly talking about Scolari's main Premier League rivals, and unless I have missed something, Liverpool have not been serious title contenders in Benitez's four years at the club.

    If anyone can dispute that fact then please let me know.

    It was not a slight. It was not bias. It was not an agenda. It was a statement of fact.

    As and when Liverpool muscle in on the serious title action, you will see a genuine acknowledgement of that right here.

    In fact, I will happily debate it at length - and promise to discuss their title prospects with you when Benitez's summer spending is complete.

    Now we can get back to what sort impact you all feel Scolari will make, how he will get the title back to Stamford Bridge, and your views on the latest in the Frank Lampard transfer story.

  • Comment number 60.

    Unbelievable, another perfectly reasonable article but once again paranoid liverpool fans twist the words into an attack on their club - its really beginning to become tiresome and boring.

    I'd also be interested to know how many people moaning about some of Phil McNulty's comments about how the press conference went actually attended the conference and are able to comment on what went on.

  • Comment number 61.

    As a United fan I'm glad Scolari's been appointed. In a way it's a win-win situation. If he fails, Chelsea fail, and that can only be good for United. If he's the manager everyone makes him out to be (and I'm honest enough to admit that I don't know enough about his club record to judge), then the Premiership will be a better place for it.

    Mourinho never failed to entertain; Grant - whilst not being very entertaining - provided a great challenge to us last season; Mr Scolari - over to you. Good luck, and here's hoping for a competitive season that goes down to the wire again, hopefully with the same result ;)

  • Comment number 62.

    Well said.....

    I think Chelsea have got a good man there.

    What is more worrying is the constant and seemingly permanent polarization of English football. The have's and have not.

    I am not a socialist by any stretch of the imagination but I feel KK was not far wide of the mark when he said priorities for most clubs will be set in stone before a ball is kicked and therefore the Premier league is set to be "Boring", he was right. No the football isn't boring but the competition is, by and large.

    Phil Scolari will just compound that imbalance, It is not his fault, it is just the way English football is.

    The best buy better and the rest scramble around. Whilst clubs like Villa, Everton and Tottenham remain selling clubs it will always be so. If anyone from 5th to 20th has a decent player who looks like they could boost the fortunes of that club, one of the "big 4" will buy or at the very least unsettle them, whether they need them or not...case in point was someone of the ilk of Shaun Wright Phillips.

    So will Scolari make a difference, yes, but not as much as the Billiionaires at the top table who are ruining the game as a spectacle and as a competition.

  • Comment number 63.

    Oh, and Liverpool fans, get off with your ridiculous paranoia. This is a blog about the Premiership title. I'm sure there's one somewhere about petty-minded teams trading insults with the other teams chasing fourth place over transfers of overrated players. Maybe you'll feel more at home there..

  • Comment number 64.

    Did any of you actually see the press conference? Because if you had YOU would have been impressed by his command of the English language, as well as having noticed that Benitez was mentioned together with Wenger and Ferguson, and Scolari, as far as I can remember, mentioned his respect for all of them.

    Whether you like Chelsea as a club or not, Scolari, like Mouriniho before him, will bring some energy and excitement to the Premiership which will be a talking point for ALL fans whether they like the bloke or not.

    Please lets get back to the discussion and stop all the anti-BBC and slating PMc comments.

  • Comment number 65.

    Phil,

    I do not know why you bother to respond to the issue of not mentioning Benitez? The simple fact is that most Liverpool fans cannot grasp that they are no longer the biggest club in England never mind Europe anymore. Until they reign in their age old expectations they will continue to be frustrated when not considered as one of the big three.

    As far as your article goes,I believe Scolari will be a huge success as he is a winner, when this is allied to almost unlimited funds and resources then it is almost a no brainer that he will succeed.

  • Comment number 66.

    Can i just say something as a Liverpool fan.


    Why are Liverpools being blamed for nothing!!

    Were by the way 'living on the past'

    I certainly always look to the future. with Torres and Gerrard leading us on!

    We'll put up a good fight next season i'm sure.

    WITH OR WITHOUT BARRY

    And if we can beat arsenal, chelsea and Man U at home we've got a good chance as any of the others!

    Good Blog Phil

  • Comment number 67.

    The only thing that will stop Phil is Abramovic and his patience (or lack there of). Prev posters have mentioned unlimited funds and resources, put a top class manager in that situation and success is almost guaranteed. Every new manager has to live up to the Jose benchmark of winning the title straight away and a good run in CL.

    Time will tell

  • Comment number 68.

    Phil, I'm not going to go too much into detail on the article at this time, but the issue I want to raise is that of Scolari's ability to speak English.

    When Scolari was announced as Chelsea manager, I think it was you have posted an article concerning his English. Almost immediately someone pointed out that he had given an interview in English to this very website. You were asked by posters time and time again to acknowledge and correct your error. This was not done.

    Then, this blog opens up with your amazement of his English. Why?

    It is something as basic and fundamental as this that perhaps starts to undermine the rest of whatever you write. If you can get something that is factual so wrong, then why should be listen to things that offer your journalistic impression.

    Have you answered this particular point, and if not, can you do so now. Either acknowledge that this is not correct or explain why you were surprised.

    Thank you

  • Comment number 69.

    Zzzzzzzzz, snore snore.........zzzzzzz.

    Build him up now and knock him down eventually.

    Typical lazy rubbish, close season journalism. Scolari will see you lot for what you all are eventually. He needs to learn quickly. If he has any sense thats the last time he will bother speaking to any of you.

  • Comment number 70.

    To MrBlueBurns...I questioned the quality of his English previously having attended numerous press conferences in various countries at which Scolari pointedly declined to answer in English.

    He was also asked questions in English at Euro 2008 once his appointment at Chelsea was confirmed, and declined once more.

    Indeed, some areas of the media made mention of this. Fair comment in my view.

    This is exactly why I was surprised, not that he spoke in English particularly, but that he spoke it so well.

    I think this also takes care of this particular subject.

    So now we can return to more immediate concerns.

    What areas of the Chelsea team do you think he should address?

    And was he right to suggest Frank Lampard was perfectly happy at Chelsea, when it appears he is not.

    Maybe Scolari was playing a clever game to get Lampard to publicly state - very clearly it should be said - his current position.

  • Comment number 71.

    Fair play Phil, thanks for the answer. Although it doesn't actually tie up loose ends, it does explain why you said what you said.

    As for Chelsea, hmmmm, where does one start.
    First 11? Formation? Squad? Style of play?

    For most things it really is too early to say. But how much time will he have to deal with the variety of issues that are within his remit. People constantly say that Chelsea are quick to dispense with their managers (usually as a negative dig), but look at the number of managerial casualties last season as a whole. Chelsea is a hot seat (rightly or wrongly) and people know that.

    I suppose Lampard is perhaps the most pressing issue, but at the same time, doesn't need finalising until 31 August, transfer deadline day, although the press will be making hay out of the issue, whether there is any hay to be made some days or not.

    Do I want him to stay? Yes, absolutely. If I was him would I stay? It would be a perfect time to switch to Inter if that was his preference, in wanting to spread his wings. Money? Can we portray his position as trying to satisfy his ambitions rather than his bank balance. We always hear there is too much money in the game, but the press often report that side of a transfer more than the football side.

    Either way, now that Scolari is in situ, perhaps behind closed doors they can come to a conclusion one way or another, for everyone's sake.

  • Comment number 72.

    Mr Blue Burns you took the words right out of my mouth. McNulty is a lazy old hack.

    A number of us heard him interviewed and responding in English back when he was Brazil manager.

    I think he augurs well. Only time will tell thes rest is just guesswork.

  • Comment number 73.

    Chelsea fan here. Personally he wasn't my first choice, but he wasn't exactly at the bottom of my list either!

    But now he's here, and after having to put up with Grant for most of a season, that alone gets me fired up for the new season. Chelsea are a big club by any standards, and they need a big manager.

    It seems everyone wants to turn into a fortune teller and comment on a season that is still - at the time of writing - a couple months off. A lot will happen before the season kicks off - including some signings for Chelsea. Our new manager is someone who can draw players in, can swing the balance in our favor when competing with other teams - so it's all good.

    Do I think he'll do well? Yes. He strikes me as being perfectly suited to the task at hand. He's got time to put his plans in place too, so that's a plus.

    The article was good as an introduction to the man and the pomp and ceremony of his arrival. The real work starts now that's in the job.

    So now we await his purchase plans - surely something is in the works, because we need a big name forward (sorry Anelka, but having seen what you've done for us, and the woeful displays at the Euro's, I don't think you're the man).

    I really don't care if Drogba stays or goes - my gut reaction though is that I'd like a break from him - build a new forward line, we have the cash to do that.

    Lampard? I'd like to see him stay. A truly great British player who gave us 20 goals or so last time out, perfect!

    All this talk about Roman not giving people time is the chatter of people who haven't kept up with the modern game. Once SAF leaves Utd, his replacement won't be given years to win something again - they'll be given a season or maybe two, and if they continue to fail, they'll be out. The era of long term managers has gone - it's not a Roman/Chelsea thing - it's a modern day football thing.

    Bring on the new season!

  • Comment number 74.

    Scolari looks good and should add to the entertainment this season. This is the easy bit for him though - when the games start we'll find out how good he is.

    I think chelsea need more flair players and more focus on creativity rather than power. They had United under the cosh in the CL final but couldn't open them up.

    As for players, Scolari seems to be covering his bases by saying he wants everyone to stay. Realistically, he must want to shake things up a bit, there are a lot of egos at chelsea and he needs to assert his authority. There are plenty of ageing 30 year-olds who could be sacrificed and Lamps is one of them. If he doesn't ask for a new contract I think Phil will ship him out.

    Finally, the Bentiz debate. Phil - you can play it as straight as you like. But as an experienced blogger who is continuously hounded by the more paranoid scouse fans, you must have had a quiet chuckle when writing that last line!

  • Comment number 75.

    An old director-general of the BBC said if he got a thousand letter a week saying he was too right wing and a thousand saying he was too left wing then he was doing a good job.

    Whenever Phil writes an article concerning a club - their supporters or rivals always criticise saying he has an agenda. As an Everton fan, I admit that sometimes I disagree with some of his articles - who doesn't? That's what journalism is all about.

    For all those idiots who think Phil isn't doing a good job, the fact that you are writing on his blog and participating in a debate means he must be doing something right. If there was no intention of creating a debate he would have posted an article not a blog.

    Good work Phil, keep it up. Even when you are pro-Liverpool and anti-Everton!

  • Comment number 76.

    To bioChelseaW...quick question - who would your first choice have been rather than Scolari?

    The Lampard situation is at least coming to a head now, and it is better for a new manager to clear up any doubts as swiftly as possible.

    If Chelsea have offered Lampard a four-year deal, as has been suggested, then that is surely enough for a player who has reached 30?

    I suppose the other side of that coin is that he will say: "If they've offered me four, why not go to five?"

    It's tough but I reckon he is going.

    What I do hope is that he leaves without acrimony because Lampard and Chelsea have been very good for each other.

  • Comment number 77.

    'I think chelsea need more flair players and more focus on creativity rather than power. They had United under the cosh in the CL final but couldn't open them up. '

    Can't agree with the 'couldn't open them up' bit. Chelsea could have no complaints if they were 3-0 down at half time, but after that, other than the Giggs effort it was all Chelsea as evidenced by hit the frame of the goal twice!

    'What I do hope is that he leaves without acrimony because Lampard and Chelsea have been very good for each other.'

    Indeed. I have said I don't want him to go, but if he does, he has been a fantastic servant for Chelsea, whatever some of his detractors would try and have us believe. I would wish him all the luck in the world, wherever he ends up.

  • Comment number 78.

    Hey Phil.

    Don't laugh, I wanted Frank Rijkaard, and held out that hope right to the end. He's young, adventurous, brave, and has a passion. He'd had a rotten time last year, but I really wanted him to bring a youthful vibrancy to Chelsea.

    Scolari isn't a step down though, just different. I can certainly get behind him. Frankly after Grant, I was ready for just about anyone. --LOL--

    You asked what we need to work on - and for me it's attack. Our front line, whether we go 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 needs more bite. I'm not wholly convinced that Drogba fits any longer. I'd favor a brave Scolari, all change up front. Let's face it, we've an embarassment of riches in midfield.

    However, the names he needs to bring in are the big ones. Really big. Malouda - Drogba - Anelka.... I'd be brave and look to ditch each of them to be honest. It's not as though it was a disaster last year, but adventure would be great.

    What worries me about Drogba are the on-field antics of always falling over. We lose too many chances because of it. Also, that on-field argument with Ballack left a bad taste too.

  • Comment number 79.

    To MrBlueBurns...I have to say I was unsure when Chelsea paid £11m for Lampard, but it has been money very well spent.

    I confess to having a preference for Steven Gerrard (does this make me a Liverpool fan??) but Lampard's goals return and contribution to Chelsea have been fantastic.

    He will be missed if and when he goes - but we can be sure Chelsea will have the money to replace him and may even do so from within their current ranks.

  • Comment number 80.

    As a Chelsea fan, i dont see many signings that big phil needs to make, now we have deco. Now that the right back problem is hopefully sorted with bosignwa we have what i would call a world class back four (and a world class keeper). The main question is obviously formation. Now that we dont have to play essien at right back, can we slot him in a team with lampard(?) ballack Deco and joe cole and still play winning (if not the most exciting) football?

    The main concerns are to get another striker. Anelka was good at bolton but he's been a constant disappointment, sometimes having to play out wide on the wing to accomodate our Uber midfield. And Drogba has looked unsettled in the last half of the season and its unclear whether he can be relied on to lead the attack.

    Lots to think about

  • Comment number 81.

    On the subject of Deco, where do you see him fitting in?

    He is 30 now and there are suggestions coming out of Spain that he is now past his best.

    Is this a good deal - and what do fans of Chelsea's title rivals think about their potential challenge this season?

  • Comment number 82.

    Come on, Phil! Things were really close last year - Man Utd fans want to talk the talk, but the fact is we were two games from winning the Premiership title, and one penalty kick from winning the4 Champions League. Yes Man Utd won both, but it really doesn't get closer than that - and if people want to go on about "beautiful football" - it doesn't seem to give you too much edge, huh? (not that I gree Chelsea play boring football - I never get tired of winning myself).

    Deco? I assumed he's there because Lampard was doubtful. And maybe to give us some good international/European experience. He's clearly not the "future", as football moves on to being a much younger man's game. He wasn't someone I'd have wanted at all, it's not that I don't value his skills, it's just that we have a lot of skills in that area already.

  • Comment number 83.

    bioChelseaW...I agree things were really close.

    Just wondering where Deco will play and if he is actually up to the job.

    Surely Scolari will not persist with what I thought was a serious error last season and keep Michael Essien at right-back.

    He is a very good right-back, but a truly outstanding midfield player.

    Stick him in there permanently and watch him go.

  • Comment number 84.

    MrBlueBurns - long time, no debate.

    Regarding your comments on the Champions' League Final, I'd definitely agree that Chelsea had the better of the second half, but I think they were definitely missing that creative spark. Of the two incidents where they hit the post, one was a speculative long shot from Drogba, and the other a shot from Lampard that was a bit fortunate in falling for him. I would argue that United, having carved out good openings but missed them, had the creativity but lacked composure, while Chelsea had the composure (I recall Lampard's post-bound effort being a fantastic shot), but never really turned their second-half dominance into clear cut chances.

    I think the acquisition of Deco will do much to readdress this balance, and I think Lampard should be sold to Inter. It's not that he's not a good player, because he is, but I would personally prefer Ballack alongside Deco (with Essien behind them). For me Lampard is similar to Ballack, but not quite as varied in what he can do (aerially for example, Ballack is far superior). However keeping Lampard wouldn't be a bad move either, as he is a quality player in his own right.

  • Comment number 85.

    MrBlueBurns - not disputing Chelsea's dominance in the CL final. But 1 clear chance for Lampard and an (excellent) speculative effort from Drogba is not a lot to show for the entire 2nd half plus most of extra time. By comparison, United created far better chances when they were on top, due to the creativity within their side.

  • Comment number 86.

    I was looking on Wiki and it appears he's managed 16 different clubs, either he gets bored too quickly or they get bored with him.

    Saying that though he's won the Copa Libertadores (equivalent of the European Cup in South America) twice with two different clubs (Gremio '95,Palmeiras '99) so he can't be a bad manager not to mention the World Cup in 2002.

    If Frank goes then Chelsea have enough quality to cope as they still have Ballack and the new acquisition Deco, Surely they wouldn't all play together anyway.

  • Comment number 87.

    Liverpool fan here. I accept Phil's comment that Rafa / Liverpool has not realistically challenged for the EPL since Rafa's appointment this is undisputed. The reason I suspect we feel slighted is that Wenger was mentioned and Rafa was not.

    Although Wenger has won the EPL, Rafa has been considerably more successful than Wenger since Rafa's arrival. Liverpool have won the FA Cup, Community Shield , Super Cup, Champions League whilst getting to the Carling Cup and another Champions League final. During this time Arsenal have won nothing, the only point of note was being in the CL Final against Barca and losing to us last season in the CL Quarter Final.

    So to ignore Rafa whilst including Wenger as a threat for historical reasons is a glaring omission which I hope I have candidly explained!

  • Comment number 88.

    To Squirrel1958....refer to post 59 - and the fact Arsenal were in the title race until virtually the end of the season, going five points clear at one point.

    No more on that one thanks. It has been fully explained.

  • Comment number 89.

    Difference is Arsenal are a good team with a good manager. Liverpool are a great striker, a greedy captain, a clueless manager, and nine no-hopers.

  • Comment number 90.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 91.

    Manchester United fan here. I believe Chelsea will be our only challengers for the title this season, although it maybe a little too early to write off Arsenal and Liverpool depending on who they buy this summer.

    If I was Big Phil I would sell Drogba for £20M+ and bring in The Hunter (Klass-Jan Huntelaar) as his record for shots per goals ration in the box is outstanding apparently.) Out too with Makelele, Sidwell, Ferreira, Kalou, Ben Haim.

    I would also make a play for Sergio Aguero and forget about Ronaldinho.

  • Comment number 92.

    Yes I think Scolari came across very well and hopefully he will settle in well. In the case of Lampard, yes, I'm sure he does want to stay at Chelsea but negotiations are unfortunately a matter between his agent and Kenyon not the manager and the player as it should be. Anyone who saw Deco in the Euro finals will know he is far from over the hill and could be another vintage wine like the mighty Zola. If Lampard stays he will be a fitting foil for Deco's wonderful passing skills. In Liverpools case I have a great respect for the club but fear they have still got a few problems. With the new stadium and the squabbling owners with their huge expense bills they are heading for the same financial problems as Arsenal £300m? and even Man U £1000m? debt . Sooner or later the money has to be paid back and the Yanks will be the first to bail out and leave the sinking ship. LFC fans are all asking Rafa to buy and strengthen the squad, and I'm sure he would like to, but are the funds available? I have my doubts.

  • Comment number 93.

    RANDALL_KEITH_ORTON

    Huntelaar's pushing for a move to United by all accounts. According to the Dutch media he was quoted as saying

    "I love clubs with great history like Ajax, I also love Manchester United. It's a club that makes me dream, especially as Ruud van Nistelrooy played there and did great things with them. I know certain English clubs are following me, like Manchester United, who are very interested in me."

    If that's true, I can't see him agreeing a move to Chelsea.

  • Comment number 94.

    Here are some interesting thoughts from Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon on the departure of Avram Grant, the search for his successor and the future of Frank Lampard.

    http://www.chelseafc.com/page/LatestNews/0,,10268%7E1341138,00.html

  • Comment number 95.

    'whatbill' and 'reaseoneddebate'

    Just to conclude on the Champions League final, it was Fergie himself that said that Man U were hanging on due to Chelsea's dominance after the break. Anyway, it is history now.

    'goleoo'

    I have a lot of sympathy for those who want to address some of the money issues in the game. However, to symbolise Lampard as all that is evil is wrong. He has constantly produced for Chelsea. Of that there can surely be no question.

    Also, I would suggest that certain non-Englishmen saying that it is for the good of the game that English clubs look at their finances are being dis-ingenuous. I think they are worried by the power of the Premier League internationally rather than our game as a nation. The shot across the bows that was the suggestion of a 39th game and the all English Champions League final has made FIFA and UEFA stand up and take note.

    If the powers that be were to ensure that Champions League money was spread much more evenly between smaller countries and perhaps even only Champions enter the competition, then I would believe them.

  • Comment number 96.

    Phil,

    Must say I have disagreed with you in the past. Still do on a lot of topics, but cannot deny that your blogs seem to make sense ... at least journalistic sense.
    Keep it up.

    My question to you is, having heard that Scolari is going to send the new goalkeeping coach Pracidelli (sp?) to the academy trhice a week to scout talent, do you think he will be given the time and encouragement to bring in youth from within the club? I have followed the Abramovich era with as much enthusiasm and excitement as any other Chelsea fan but this has been an area of disappointment. We have opted to go to all ends to buy expensive and at times overpriced talent from outside the club rather than giving the youngsters an extended run to impress. Mourinho too came in and made claims that he would give youth a chance and it rarely happened.

    Having seen Scolari now, does your impression tell you that he can stand up and dictate terms that he would give talented youngsters within the academy more ofa chance to shine before venturing in the transfer market?

  • Comment number 97.

    Mr McNulty writes
    'I well recall the contrast between Portugal's humble media base when they were the host country and the circus of self-importance that trailed along in England's wake.'
    Phil, is this the circus you and the other media hacks perpetuate? No?
    I give you then -
    'And that was Chelsea's new coach as he capped his coronation with a glittering performance of charm, passion and a command of the English language that made mugs of us all.'
    Phil, could it be that you and the other 'honest' professionals indulged in idle and incorrect speculation about Mr Scolari's capabilities?
    Mr McNulty reports that Scolari made '- a most emphatic denial that he had ever interfered in Ronaldo's decision-making process'
    Amazing that some press use the new man's press conference to correct possible libelous accusations and certainly inaccurate/ speculative reporting about Scolari's meddling in sensitive matters afecting a top English club.
    Hilariously, Phil McNulty - BBC Sport wrote after some minor citicism in the posts-
    'Sorry for being honest'
    Phil, its accuracy, proper research of facts before publishing nonsense, that most of us football fans are after.

  • Comment number 98.

    Talk about John 3:16!

  • Comment number 99.

    MrBlueBurns - Don't get me wrong, I'm not claiming United were the better team. I think we had the better of the first half by a country mile, and you were far better in the second. Extra time I thought was fairly equal, although you just shaded it. We definitely did hang on, but I would say that we were there for the taking - particularly towards the end of normal time - and it was Chelsea's lack of creativity (long ball to Drogba, corners always aimed at Ballack, etc) that let us off the hook.

    Agreed though, it is history. Hopefully this year's final will be a game of equal quality (and hopefully the same result!).

    As for this sudden clamouring by UEFA to restrict the Premier League - it's merely down to greed. The Premiership will always be set apart slightly from UEFA, in the same way that Britain has always been slightly apart from the EU. When Italian and Spanish teams were dominating the Champions' League, not a word was said.

    Personally I think the Champions' League should be open to three teams from England - the Premier League champions, FA Cup winners, and League Cup winners. That would give the respectability back to the League Cup, make some teams (Arsenal, for example) take the FA Cup more seriously, and end this ridiculous situation of Liverpool, Everton and co "playing for fourth place".

  • Comment number 100.

    Scolari couldn't even get a very good Portugal team that far in the Euro's, who is to say he will do it at Chelsea.

    He had one of the best talents in the world at his fingertips and he couldn't do what Fergie did - win with a one man team.



 

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