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The final frontier

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Tim Vickery | 09:56 UK time, Monday, 16 February 2009

There will be disappointment in Brazilian coaching circles that Luiz Felipe Scolari has been deemed to have failed at Chelsea. Many over here were hoping that he would do well - and that this would open doors for other Brazilian coaches to cross the Atlantic.

Establishing themselves with the major European clubs is the frontier that Brazilian coaches have so far not been able to crack.

They start off with an obvious disadvantage - the quality of Brazil's players. When the national team wins the World Cup, the stars get all the credit. When they lose the coach gets the bulk of the blame.

This, as Ray Wilkins would put it, is a tad harsh.

Tactics and organisation have been a key part of Brazil's successes. In a low scoring game like football, winning sides cannot afford to give cheap goals away.

Brazilian coaches have continually striven to find a balance between attack and defence. They invented the back four - and then understood that its implementation needed at least one of the wingers to drop back and help out in midfield.

The great 1970 side, whose key idea when losing possession was to drag everyone bar Tostao behind the line of the ball, can be seen as pioneers of 4-5-1.

The record speaks for itself - both Brazil and Germany have played 92 World Cup matches - the major difference is that Brazil have conceded fewer goals.

Moreover, the privilege of counting on the best players is one that Brazilian club coaches no longer enjoy. The stars are all in Europe. Consequently, the figure of the coach has become increasingly decisive in the domestic game. In the absence of breathtaking individual talent, the collective vision of the coach can tip the balance.

Sao Paulo beat Liverpool in 1995

Europe has seen and suffered from this development. In the final of the 2005 Club World Cup, Sao Paulo beat Liverpool. A year later Internacional overcame Barcelona. Both times the Brazilian sides were heavily outgunned. But they fought from a trench, frustrated their opponents and broke out to score a single goal, in tactical triumphs, respectively, for coaches Paulo Autori and Abel Braga.

But for all their attributes, there is one thing that the Brazilian coaches have yet to show they can do - work with the multi-national, multi-cultural squads of today's top European clubs. There is nothing at home to prepare them for such an experience.

Scolari, for example, had a couple of Paraguayans at Gremio and Palmeiras, worked with Faustino Asprilla at the latter, and the Argentine Sorin at Cruzeiro.

But even these players, from neighbouring countries, are classed as "gringos". In Brazil the unfortunate word is a blanket term for all foreigners. Its very existence is a negation of the diversity that Scolari had to deal with at Chelsea.

Scolari has excelled as a coach who forms and motivates groups. In the short time-span given to him (and I'm astonished that he was sacked before the knock out phase of the Champions League), he clearly found it hard to do this using a second language to bind together a multi-national squad.

Especially damaging was his inability to get the best out of Didier Drogba, such an important player in the previous regimes.

Perhaps his father figure act did not go down well in new surroundings. National team boss Dunga has been known to criticize Brazilian coaches for their excessive paternalism, but it is an obvious card to play in a country obsessed with the figure of the absent father.

In the 2002 World Cup Big Phil was the undisputed head of what was called "the Scolari family". In England, as Brazilian midfielder Rodrigo noted after working with David Moyles at Everton, coach-player relations are more professional than paternalistic.

Perhaps, too, Scolari did himself no favours with his transfer targets. He pined for Robinho, and brought in Deco, Bosingwa, Quaresma - even Mineiro, an honest Brazilian midfielder, but one well into his 30s who had been shown the door by German football.

This reliance on favourites and compatriots sends all the wrong signals. It is a recipe for cliques and comes across as an unwillingness to embrace the big, wide world.

And so Scolari moans that his Chelsea team were not "Brazilian" enough - a consideration which never bothered him in the slightest when he was making his name in the mid-90s with a rugged and functional Gremio side. Perhaps the problem was that he wasn't cosmopolitan enough.

Scolari chats to Ronaldo in 2002

But his CV still makes impressive reading. Seven months down the road, he may now be better equipped to coach in the Premier League than when he first landed at Stamford Bridge. If Scolari can learn he lessons of his time at Chelsea, then he may yet have the European club success that finally opens the doors for his colleagues back home.
Comments on this piece on the space below. Other questions on South American football to, and I'll pick out a couple for next week.

From last week's postbag:
Last summer AC Milan, the club I support, talked about bringing in Hernanes from Sao Paulo. I know very little about him, other than he has made only one appearance for the national team. Does he have a future at Milan or even in Europe?
Brett Kenneson
I think he has a huge future - I'm just back from watching him set up a goal with a Fabregas-style pass in the big local derby against Corinthians.

Very talented all round midfielder, strikes the ball wonderfully well on either foot, mobile and versatile - there's no one better in Brazilian football at the moment.

He's 23, and time to leave is approaching. For all his many virtues, when he came up against Argentina's Fernando Gago in the Olympics the comparison was not at all flattering - an excellent illustration that football is not just technique, it's also ideas.

In technical terms, you might rate Hernanes higher - he's better on his left foot. But Gago, who's a bit younger, looked the more mature player in his choice of options - when to pass long or short, when to sit and when to link up with the attack. Hernanes had some moments, Gago had the match.

Sao Paulo are a pragmatic, no frills side, and very successful with it. Coach Muricy Ramalho is on record as saying that he doesn't like possession football. So there's a limit to what Hernanes can do there. I can see him playing the Pirlo role with Milan, or slotting very nicely into the midfield at Barcelona, (who were also interested) where Guardiola, a magnificent player in his day, would have a lot to teach him.
I recently heard Cruzeiro's young Brazilian striker Guilherme has moved to Ukraine to play for Dynamo Kiev for $4m, can you please tell how highly rated he is in Brazil and by you and is this the right move for him or has he just moved for the money.

Is he good enough to one day play in England or Spain and be a mainstay in the Brazilian national team. Will this move hinder his development?
James Herlinger
Another player I like a lot - stocky support striker with the rare gift of vision - he sees the killer pass and has the ability to deliver it.

I'm disappointed with the move, especially as Cruzeiro are in the Libertadores this year (South America's Champions League, their first game is this week) and I don't think there's anything better he could have done for the first half of the year rather than staying for that, and then maybe moving in the summer.

Cruzeiro were also negotiating with Zaragoza in Spain, which might have been better for him, but he does have real talent, so let's hope Kiev works out for him.


  • Comment number 1.

    Interesting article Tim,

    I think the sacking of Phil Scolari is less an indictment of Scolari and more an indictment of a Chairman who has panicked. I've actually always thought Abramovic gets a bit of a rough ride, considering what he's done for Chelsea I think that gives him the right to throw the occassional toy out of the pram. But this move smacks of a knee-jerk reaction to the sudden unexpected ingredient of Aston Villa in the top four mix.

    Scolari could have arguably survived a season without a league or CL title but a finish outside the tiop four is unthinkable, and despite it seemingly relatively unlikely Abramovich clearly thought it was a little too close for comfort. Right now he wants a safe bet, and Hiddink is arguably the safest manager you can put your club in the hands of.

    Can I ask if any managers who are what you could refer to as stereotypically English or Italian in terms of tactics and style who have in recent times managed successfully in South America? English, Dutch and Italian managers seem to end up in the most foreign of locations all the time (Revie in the UAE, Hodgson in Finland and Trappatoni all over the place.) So ut hardly seems a major career leap to assume at some point some managers have tried their luck in your part of the world.

    If so, does their record give us any further insight into the managerial differences on each side of the Atlantic?

  • Comment number 2.

    I think using the Club World Cup as an example of South American triumphs over European opposition is a bit misleading.
    There is no doubt in my mind that these showpiece occassions are far more important to the South American clubs than they are to the European giants. Losing in such circumstances is not something that Liverpool nor Barcelona were overly concerned about, or ever will be. United won it recently at a canter, but at no time did it seem like a real competition.
    As for managers, I don't think the sacking of Scolari is a barometer for South American coaches. Almost every football fan I have spoken to has said that the villain in all this are Chelsea and that Scolari would have succeeded had he been given more time.
    As a football fan, I am still a fan of South American coaches and the things they hold dear. I would much rather see a Liverpool team built around creativity than hard work. A Tottenham team built around Modric or Huddlestone, an Arsenal team built around Arshavin and Fabregas.
    The penchant for physicality is also something enjoyed by South American coaches, mixing beauty and brutality, it's an epic concoction and needs real nuturing but if you get the balance right then you end up with exciting and rugged teams perhaps typified by the current Argentina national team.
    The big drawback with transferring this into team management is time and money. The very skillful players to base your teams on cost a lot of money, and if you haven't got one already then you need to find a cheaper alternative, this takes time. Then once you have the personnel, you need to get the team to understand the balance and this can only be done through playing time. Time and money are two things that are of short supply in top tier management in Europe, and this is why South American coaches are not the first names on the list of today's chairmen. It's an awful shame because there are some clubs in the Premiership where these types of managers would be brilliant. Clubs like Newcastle, Middlesborough and Blackburn are examples of clubs who do not expect success every season and who have time and money on their side. They are strong enough to stay in the division and give a manager time to reinvent the team, and they also have the financial clout to bring in a £10m player when needed. Bringing in someone like Pellegrini and telling the fans that this is the start of a 4 year project would be much more exciting and rewarding than the current situation where someone like Southgate, Allardyce or Kinnear just tread water for 4 years before their lack of success and meaningful development renders them jobless once more.

  • Comment number 3.

    Hi Tim,

    Great piece again. Do you not think that rather than this being a result of Scolari's supposed ineptitude to work with a multi-cultural side do you not think he simply inherited a group of players that are passed their best and don't seem to have the same drive as they used too eg Drogba. I have seen many comments made about how Grant and Mourinho did well with this bunch of players but Mourinho had built the team and therefore they suited his style of play which is very different to Scolari's and Grant perhaps simply keet some of Mourinho's momentum going for a while and the downturn in results would have eventually happened anyway. I think given more time Scolari could have sculpted the team to play in his Brazilian way and been more successful. Chelsea need to realise that they were moving to a new era and a new style of football which is what Abramovich wanted anyway flair and style. Any change of regime takes time and they were not prepared to give it.

  • Comment number 4.

    While acknowledging Felipe's terrific early achievements with Gremio & Palmeiras, I put it to you Tim that you are not critical enough of Scolari.

    Since taking over Brazil, one can make a great argument for each of his teams not achieving their potential, notwithstanding Brazil winning the world cup.

    You will remember how they struggled even in the laughably easy South American qualifying campaign. Scolari had some player problems, but with great fortune they did emerge with the greatest prize in perhaps the world cup with least all-round quality of recent times.

    So to Portugal....finalists in Euro. Yes, as hosts. And in 6 games with home advantage they twice lost to Greece. A mid-table finish at best in a league format! More, they were out-coached by Rehhagel's rag-bag collection of journeymen. While Otto made the sum of Greece's parts considerable more than their individual talents, Scolari again failed to get the best out of his very talented squad (and yes, England have also repeatedly failed to get the best out of their talents).

    This theme was to continue - even in the last Euro they were pretty poor throughout, and then convincingly beaten by a German team with less talent. Again, out coached and out thought.

    And so to Chelsea. Read back experts' comments after the impressive start to Scolari's tenure. All the experts saying Chelsea had the best all round squad. Yes, he added to it, and yes Mr Vickery you admit he made some mistakes, as did previous encumbents at Stamford Bridge. But again he failed, and compared to Avram Grant, who had no pre-season and less room to manoeuvre in the transfer market, can be classed as way adrift in terms of results.

    No more questions your honour. Take off your rose-coloured Brazilian specs occasionally please Tim!

    Finally I have to say despite my differing opinion on this matter, you are the most informed and eloquent of all contributors I have heard on the BBC, and I wish some of the comfortable "staffers" would take a leaf, and at the very least learn how to pronouce names properly!

  • Comment number 5.

    David Moyles? Older brother to Chris?

    Lol soz man that was a cheap shot!

    Good blog as usual man, very interesting stuff.

    I asked a while back what you thought of a couple of young players, and id still be interested to see what you think.

    One is Cristian Benavente - I think hes from Peru

    Another is Cristian Milan - Think hes polish.

    Im not sure if u know these players, but ive seen / heard of them once or twice and its allways been very positive. Are they set for bright futures? Or just more nameless faces that never get appreciated by the european audience?

  • Comment number 6.

    Ooops *Nicolas Milan* Not Christian

  • Comment number 7.

    I personally dont think Scolari wanted to be there in the end.. He looked a little fed up and lost in press conferences and shrugging your shoulders when your team of national players are dropping points is not acceptable.

    Lets not forget that the English press' inability to let go of Mourinho hasnt helped Scolari at all.. There is hardly a week goes by without them quoting him or linking him back over here... until he finally does there will be no easy task for any Chelsea manager who takes over...

    I thought he made a mistake in signing Deco too... he should have focused on clearing out some of the long term players first and foremost and made it his team.

  • Comment number 8.

    I think you're too analytical #4, I don't think you can grade teams the way you've done to back up your argument against Scolari.

    If it was as simple to say certain teams are 'better', 'weaker' or a 'collection of journeymen' then holding international tournaments would seem rather academic as everyone would agree who is the best.

    Some managers succeed because they are blessed with many top players, some because they get average players to punch above their weight and other because they have a bit of either. Management rarely comes down to a precise reflection of them though. You have to throw luck, the fans you have and all sorts of other imponderables into the mix.

    I may be wrong but I don't think Tim was saying Scolari stands atop of the managerial pile, superior to all. But you seem to be implying that Scolari is an over-rated nearly man.

    "one can make a great argument for each of his teams not achieving their potential, notwithstanding Brazil winning the world cup" - That's like saying Bobby Moore's career was one of many let down's, apart from that World Cup he captained a team to victory in.

    If someone says Scolari is undisputedly the greatest manager in history then perhaps they are a tad generous but it's hard to see how anyone could rate him less than a superbly successful and highly decorated manager.

  • Comment number 9.

    Interesting article. My only quibble is that I thought Avram Grant signed Bosingwa and not Scolari.

    As an Everton fan it would be great to know your thoughts on Jo?

  • Comment number 10.

    I heard Thiago Neves went back to Fluminense, he was fantastic in the Olympics why do you think it did not work out?

  • Comment number 11.

    Interesting piece. I think even by Brazilian coaches' standards I was shocked at the Chelsea decision. Firstly to hire him (really were was the evidence that he could succeed at club level with superstars let a lone the Chelsea ones). Secondly as I read on 606 recently, why didn't Chelsea go that extra £2mil to get Robinho, if they can pay off Scolari with £7.5mil! Just poor, poor business by Chelsea.

    I would have liked a reference to Luxumborgo at Madrid. I always was dubious of that apointment, and thought they brought him in to get Robinho. I would have liked to see him stay longer in Europe. He is clearly class in terms of winning Brazilian club tournaments, probably one of the best in recent times, and I think he might have challenged this idea of adapting to club football in Europe.

    But maybe it is a matter of time Tim. The way British clubs learned to support and get the best out of South American players, maybe they can do the same with their coaches. Let face it so far it is the European clubs with poor records with support for coaches, who seek to buy success who have failed to appoint the right coach for the job.

  • Comment number 12.

    Tim, your column has brought back fading memories of an awkward and lost Brazilian hobbling around in a royal blue shirt (no, not Jo...) - whatever happened to Rodrigo? I think in the end he only got 20 minutes.

    As for Scolari, perhaps Chelsea was too much to take on after having been out of club football for so long. Maybe a spell at a Portugese giant or a Spanish club would have grounded Scolari in the cosmopolitan patterns of European football, and in turn made him more adaptable to the pecularites of English football.

    What is next for Scolari, though? Is he the type to throw himself straight back into work? Will he start plodding affluent footballing backwaters in the Middle East or Asia?

  • Comment number 13.

    I predicted that Scolari would struggle in England (and it's not a bet I'm happy to have won). The reason he has avoided the criticism that someone like Benitez or Grant would expect is that too many people warmed to Scolari the man and overlooked Scolari the coach.

    His insistence on a tried, tested (and semi-successful) 4-5-1 formation was perhaps the chief reason why his Chelsea side were getting undone at home, yet looked so effortless on the break in away games.

    Nullifying the full-backs meant Chelsea became reliant on their wingers (imagine that!). Unfortunately for Big Phil, the likes of Kalou and Malouda don't provide a fraction of the quality and imagination of Robinho i.e. the one that got away.

    Don't get me wrong, a lot of factors went against Scolari during his short stay; Joe Cole's untimely injury, Essien's prolonged absence, his failure to land Robinho etc etc... but he didn't help matters with a few of his own decisions i.e. experimenting with a zonal marking system that has long been discredited as suitable for the English game; no plan B when CFC were found out; ill realtions with a couple of players, namely Didier Drogba, who was/is their best player.

    All in all, it was a short-lived and forgettable marriage for Scolari and Chelsea (or should that be Abramovich), but one that, to me, seemed destined to end this way.

  • Comment number 14.

    I think what happenned to Scolari has little to do with his nationality. 7 months is never long enough for any coach, anywhere, even at Chelsea.

  • Comment number 15.

    I am constantly perplexed by neutrals assertions that Scolari is a good coach. When he was appointed to the Portuguese national team job I was delighted with the appointment, thinking that he would bring much needed discipline to a squad that had been embarassingly eliminated from the Japan/Korea World Cup in 02. What then happened were 6 years of bizarre decision making that left me scratching my head as to how this guy ever won anything. See below..

    1) Marginalised FC Porto goalkeeper Vitor Baia who ended up being a Champions League winner in 04. I have no issue if he wanted to build for the future but he did this with no explanation and replaced him with Ricardo, who is mentally fragile and unable to defend crosses. He tried to marginalise Romario pre WC 02 to show he was tough and could take on the big egos in the dressing-room. Similarities with Scloari's treatment of Drogba this year but I think it back-fired.

    2) Total and utter failure to coach players to defend set pieces. See Euro 04 vs Greece (twice! It's not as if he can claim he was surprised.. And there were two more friendlies against them where we got tonked in the same fashion), WC 06 where 10 man England created more chances then us and Euro 08 where the less said about Germany's "crosses-for-the-big-man" tactic, the better. Note similarities with Chelsea's particular vulnerability this season.

    3) I think it's mentioned above but he is good at creating a family atmosphere amongst his playing squad. With Brazil and Portugal he used his psychologist Regina Brandao to assess every player to determine what kind of atmosphere he should create in the camp. With Brazil, there was plentiful use of religion and religious imagery. With Portugal, national fervour and lots of flag waving. I noticed she didn't join him at Chelsea and clearly the failure to find a common message for the "Chelsea Family" to agglutinate around impacted on Scolari's management style which leads onto...

    4) …tactics! Where do I even start? Playing guys who are hopelessly over the hill or unfit (Fernando Couto started for Portugal at Euro 04 which still brings shivers to the spine!), right-backs at left back, wingers at centre-forward… biggest disappointment is the way the centre forward in Scolari's structure is left so marooned out on his own against the teams who defend deep and leave no space to run in behind. With all the flair he had at his disposal with Portugal it was sad to see a striker like Pauleta who was great at playing on the shoulder of the defender, turned into a guy who had to hold the ball up with his back to goal. I watched Anelka have games like that this year.

    5) Communication: when he was at Portugal (and I am assuming with Brazil too) he used the press quite smartly to motivate his players and get subtle messages out. In England, his language difficulties came to the fore. Towards the end he was leaving all the press to Ray Wilkins. Another Scolari strong-point that failed to work over in England.

    Funny thing is that Mourinho clearly saw through a lot of this and believed that through all the "Scolari Family" clap-trap, he was a limited manager who took advantage of his FC Porto Champions League winning squad and blew it at Euro 2004. He clearly believed that with that squad + Ronaldo he would have won things and that Scolari would be found out sooner or later. He was right.

  • Comment number 16.

    Why didn't CFC go the extra couple of mill to sign Robinho? Reading between the lines at the time, I don't think it was truly about money for Real. The language that came from the club did not suggest a club trying to up the price (in the case of a CFC bid), but more a case of 'whatever the price, we wont sell to you, so forget it!'

    As for Scolari - I think, as they say in football, he 'lost the dressing room'. Many of the performances by some of the players looked disinterested. The Man Utd game in particular. I have never seen a Chelsea side appear so not bothered about a match and when they went a goal down, unlike previous matches (where I've thought 'we'll get a goal back'), I felt it was a case of 'how many?'

    Who knows exactly what went on behind the scences, but I would say that there a number of players who should have acted far more professionally than I think they have done so. And, if they don't alter their attitude, I can see some big casualties come the summer, possibly to join the man they managed to get sacked.

    Oh, the irony of it!

  • Comment number 17.

    As someone who has attended the majority of Chelsea games this season, I can only say that it was no knee-jerk reaction to fire him. The more Scolari coached the team, the worse it became. In addition to startging off games poorly, he had no plan B. If games were not going well he changed personnel but never the tactics. Not even trying Drogba and Anelka togther in a 442 when we were losing games was incomprehensible and we saw on Saturday the impact on the game when Wilkins did just that. A nice guy, but not only totally unsuited to the PL, but seemingly unwilling to learn from his mistakes.

  • Comment number 18.

    The decision to sack Scolari was abysmal; they sacked with Chelsea still in the running for the Champions League trophy, and it wasn’t exactly as if they were in the relegation zone.

    Various sections of the media don’t help by constantly comparing every Chelsea manager to “the Special One”; this just makes some Chelsea fans think that no-one will measure up to Jose, and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, because the fans start to compare each manager in a negative light.

    Avram Grant managed Chelsea to Premier League runners-up and Champions’ League runners’-up and most people still seemed to want him out! Incredible!

    What do you think Tim?

  • Comment number 19.

    South American coaching issues aside, Scolari really should have done his homework before accepting Chelsea's offer.
    It is a role where only the very best will do, anything other than winning the Premiership or Champions League a season is considered a failure, and in the current climate of United, Liverpool, Inter Milan and Barcelona being of excellent strength in Europe and at home, it is not a task to be taken lightly.
    But to take on Chelsea when they are at a creative low point, it is a very poor decision and one that he tried to remedy with Deco but ultimately was doomed to failure.
    Drogba, Anelka, Malouda, Cole and Quaresma are of some quality but none of them contain the raw ability found in key elite teams such as Ibrahimovic, Ronaldo, Rooney, Torres, Messi. Chelsea have a lot of tier 2 attackers but no tier 1 talent and that is the difference between winning and drawing games, as Scolari has found out.
    The alleged spending cap on Chelsea transfers is certainly not helping matters, and so Hiddink is now in a position where he will have to sell a fair few players this Summer in order to finance deals for the likes of Benzema, Aguero, Pato, Villa, David Silva and other elite performers.

  • Comment number 20.

    Nice article.
    Would like to chip about coaches from the Americas.

    I feel that some of them have done pretty well. Pelligrini in Villareal has done a terrific job, granted his side has a lot of South Americans but he has really done a great job with them. Javier Aguirre (he is not really a South American but then he is from outside Europe) also did wonders (minus the last 1+ month) with Atletico Madrid. Zico also has done very well in Turkey.
    Just 3 recent examples.

    But then with Chelsea it is very different from either of these clubs. Did the additional pressure of managing one of the top club sides in the world was a factor ?
    Tim, do you think the style of football also contributed to the fall of Scolari. As probably he is not too familiar with the way Chelsea play (a great deal of it was based on the athleticism and pace of their forwards, ). I havent watched Chelsea too much this season but from whatever I did see I felt they were not too sharp on the break.

  • Comment number 21.

    Talking of Scolari's paternal instincts as a Brazilian obsession and problem with player relationships is digging too deep in an effort to understand the problem, when the real problem is much closer to the surface.

    Speaking as a Man City fan watching my team's moral and character dissolve in front of my eyes I would say player power is the insidious disease that can infect teams very quickly. If the players involved are seen by rich owners and the board as hard and expensive to replace then the manager's position is very soon undermined.

    In our case, Mark Hughes is a dour and slightly aggressive character probably ill suited to the general personality traits of temperamental continental players. I doubt he is paternal enough so what is his problem.

    Hughes problem is the same as was Scolari's. Too many players are doubting his judgement and methods and the snow ball of ill feeling and resentment is growing and gathering apace and it is threatening to become unmanageable.

    The only answer to the problem in Chelsea's case was to let the fatherly Scolari go and in so doing stop the resentment. Hughes I fear is the next one to go.

    Ironically Scolari may well be his replacement. It could be seen that Scolari's paternal arm round the shoulder approach may well appease the Brazilians in our camp and bring even more in to create our very own Mancunian Brazil with all the money available.

    Chelsea have too many ageing stars, too many of whom are already expressing managerial type thoughts too loudly.

    Chelsea might consider younger replacements with no more thought in their mind than the next match and eager to keep favour with the manager lest he axe them before they have established themselves as millionaires and become too big for their boots.

    Rich owners should take heed. If you act like dysfunctional parents, your children (the players) will sense this and as soon as they become disenchanted with ones teachings and discipline they will only care about what they want and they will scream and shout and stamp their feet until they get what they want or...... you both stand firm and teach them a lesson.

    Children can be selfish and drive a wedge between you as parents and sometimes the gap becomes a gulf that appears unbridgeable until one has to be ejected for the sake of the family. Usually this is the manager, but as Mike Ashley and Alan Sugar before him, this can be the big boss himself.

    None in the family intend for this to happen and everyone is sad and in reality the family is the one to suffer.

    Chelsea should never have gotten rid of Mourhino. He was tailor made for them and the only one to shake Fergie.

    Fergie has always known that he must never allow that resentment to build and fortunately has always managed to persuade his other half to agree with him when it came time to eject errant children for the sake of the family. Stam and Van Nistelroy found this out. The players managed okay elsewhere and the Man Utd family stands proud and strong to this day under his tuteledge.

    In Chelsea's case I think Abramovich bores of his toy and should be preparing his exit strategy. Initially this could be to the back benches of a non exec shareholding and then a quiet and orderly sale of shares. Abramovich is I believe converting loans into shares in readiness for sale.

    As soon as Abramovich steps back Mourhino should be persuaded back, on bended knee if necessary.

  • Comment number 22.

    #4 "You will remember how they struggled even in the laughably easy South American qualifying campaign."

    I stopped reading your comment as soon as I read that part. Please educate yourself a bit more on world football and not just on what happens in Europe.

  • Comment number 23.

    Another interesting piece of sports journalism Tim.

    I do not underestimating Mr Scholari's achievements, most notably with Brazil. However, if you asked SAF or Arsene or Jose, in fact any of the 'top' men - they would probably choose Brazil to manage in a World Cup tournament-most years.

    Even with the Chelsea money there is a need for method (results at least) Relying on incredibly gifted Brazilians to dazzle in World Cups is mightily different to the 60+ game marathon of a top domestic competitions. Where, when you drop a player, he remains in the squad, and is not replaced simply by choosing another quality Brazilian. For Chelsea at least, Jose had the method, Scholari did not. For Greece, Rehhegal had the method, Scholari did not.

    It will be interesting to hear where Scholari emerges and to therefore gauge the prospective employers view of his time in the West End.

  • Comment number 24.

    Mr. Vickery,

    A quick question if you will.

    Fred at Lyon. What on earth has happened??!!

    He came with a big reputation, and by all accounts did reasonably well for Lyon.

    Now there is stories being bandied around that he is keen to head back to Brazil, all this at the tender age of 25!!

    What has happened here? Is he going to head back??

    Thanks in advance.

  • Comment number 25.

    I think a far more interesting question is why are the English such poor managers?

    Out of 11 english managers in the premiership they fill places 12-20 with Bruce in 7 th and Hodgson 11th

    In the top 6 the managers are as follows

    1. scottish
    2. spanish
    3. northern irish
    4. brazilian
    5. french
    6. scottish

    Therefore it would be appear that to get your team into the top ten requires you to plump for a non english manager.

    Why are the English so poor at man management?

  • Comment number 26.

    Because being a pundit in England is such a cushier option for English managers.

  • Comment number 27.

    It may not be a case of poor man management, rather a case of a genuine lack of tactical nous

  • Comment number 28.

    There was a recent feature on the BBC site hailing Moyes and O'Neill (numbers 3 and 6 on that little list) as 'Best of British' - so there may be the perception that as managers from the UK, they count as 'home'. Indeed, there is a tradition of exchange between England and Scotland in particular so it is not the presence of managers from other parts of the UK in the English top flight that is alarming.

    Also, I don't think you can call the English "poor managers" historically or even today, it's more about the way the Premier League values itself as a 'melting pot' of world talent.

  • Comment number 29.

    @ comment 26.

    Let us name the top pundits currently on English television one by one:

    Alan Hansen- Scot
    Mark Lawrencen- Irish
    Andy Townsend- Irish
    Andy Gray- Scot

    I can think of only Redknapp and Shearer who are English 'pundits'- if we can call them that.

  • Comment number 30.

    'Tim, your column has brought back fading memories of an awkward and lost Brazilian hobbling around in a royal blue shirt (no, not Jo...) - whatever happened to Rodrigo? I think in the end he only got 20 minutes.'

    Apparently he came back to Rio to be with his family and ended up playing at what could be described as the Scarborough of Brazil (no offence). While he was at Botafogo before going to Everton he was playing some great fooball and had an amazing left foot.

    'Fred at Lyon. What on earth has happened??!!'

    Going to sign for Fluminense in the next few days. Just in time for the Carioca semi-final against the mighty Botafogo knowing our luck!

    Hope Cov make it through against Blackburn in the replay. The only chance they've got of appearing on Brazilian TV is if they play against Chelsea in the next round. Now that I'd love to see.

  • Comment number 31.

    How come no one has commented on how Scolari announced during Portugal's qtr or semi-final Euro game that he was going to Chelsea? Very ill timed and now that karma has come back to bite him very quickly I might add. Seems too egotistic because of his CV. Oddly enough, so was Mourinho. I think Mourinho is modest when it's needed and is more wordly than Scolari. That's why he succeeded instantly. I predicted he would come back to Chelsea. Maybe.

  • Comment number 32.

    I agree with the first poster basically. Half way through the season and still in all competitions is not a damning indictment of Brazilan coaches, it says lots about the guy who fired him though.

  • Comment number 33.

    Hi Tim,

    Do Brazilian managers dream of the move across the Atlantic as players do?

    It seems to me that Brazilian coaches are in a muddled position - European club football is all powerful yet Brazil is the greatest footballing nation on the planet with the most prestigious national team. Is there a belief amongst managers that Brazilian football is the best and so there is no need to jump the pond to Europe? Or could being outside of Brazil hurt the chances of one day bossing the national team?

    You cited the player heteregeneity as a problem for Brazilian coaches. I'd like to hear some other factors contributing to the dirth of Brazilian coaches in Europe. How about the instability of Brazilian football? In Brazil the team is in constant flux whilst the top European clubs are buying clubs looking to mould a team rather than having to make do with what they have.

  • Comment number 34.

    At #29 you are forgetting Chris Kamara and Lineker. Anyway Lawrenson and Townsend are hardly the most Irish of pundits even if they did play for Ireland. I think Scots tend to be more tactically astute because they are not tied up with the success of the national team (cos we are crap) so have a more unpartisan viewpoint allowing them to appreciate the game more openly and clearly. The English seem still to be blinkered with the view of the English players (reinforced by the media) as the best in the world. As a result they often look for the answer in an English player and are less inclined to go out of their comfort zone and look for foreign players and foreign approaches to the game.

  • Comment number 35.

    Scolari wasn't the best option for Chelsea becuase he lacked european club football expirience. yeah he coached Brazil and Portugal and was successful but club football demands that you work day in day out 24/7. Its a lot of pressure to be a manager in top european football let alone Chelsea.

    In my opinion, Guus Hiddink is also not the best appointment as Chelsea manager. I know hes been at PSV and won a lot of titles but the pressure at the premier league level is tougher and with his dual role as Russia manager as well, its even worse. He should be able to hold out untill may but i don't see him signing a long term contract becuase he clearly has his future set with Russia.

    The best option for next season would be Rijkaard and they need to give him time for him to establish a team like he did at Barca.

  • Comment number 36.

    Can we please stop all this nonsense around anybody being able to manage Brazil??

    #4 - the South American qualifying group is NOT laughably easy. And Big Phil took on Brazil with five games to go, he wasn't in charge for the whole campaign, when Brazil were on the verge of missing their first World Cup. He transformed that side, they were written off by EVERY pundit in the lead up to the World Cup. This was a team that contained Roque Junior and Kleberson!!! It was a remarkable transformation.

    You can't change history to suit your own arguments.

  • Comment number 37.

    Insightful analysis but let me stress that it was not only Drogba not playing well but the entire team, Petr Chech use to be fantastic but under scolari there were more errors than brilliance,the once impregnable chelsea defence became the laughing stock of the premiership,the mid field collapsed Deco became a big dissappointment and the sriking force was non existient.

  • Comment number 38.

    I think Scolari's appointment and sacking says far more about Chelsea than Scolari

    Abromavich demands instant success and the highest profile manager he can find - he goes by glory, 'Scolari has won a world cup, he must be brilliant' - anything short of instant gratification and he was shown the rather expensive door, despite chelsea looking on song for a 'good-enough' top 4 finish

    No other team would behave like this, look how long Arsenal and Liverpool have been without a trophy, and yet they haven't introduced a a revolving door policy - Mourinho spoiled both Abromavich and Chelsea into thinking they were untouchable - but he was given money and time, neither Grant nor Scolari was given that

    consequently the two inherited Mourinho's embers - not teams of their own design, especially in Grant's case, who was simply fielding the remnants of a winning side, then Scolari comes in with ideas of his own - and is naturally met with a difficult dressing room - had he been given time to build that team he may have created something, but he wasn't - it was still the old chelsea team, just without the absent J Cole and Essien

    Now I'm not saying the purchase of Deco and a host of other portuguese speakers was a good idea, or whether Scolari had what it takes to make a champion premier league side - but he never got far enough to tell, he obviously couldn't motivate the team he inherited, which is obviously what Roman wants, not a rebuilt team that might win next year or the year after

    consequently with Hiddink coming in to 'save' their season Chelsea are probably going to have the same problems next season, unless Hiddink stays longer and proves himself a capable PL manager

  • Comment number 39.

    Quality article as ever Tim, really enjoy reading them.

    I wonder though (and I know I'll get shot down immediately by some people) if Scolari is as good as his reputation? I just wonder if his failure was nothing to do with him being Brazilian, but just not being good enough?

    He won the World Cup. OK. Does anyone think Alf Ramsey could hold a candle to Brian Clough or Alex Ferguson as a club manager or that Aime Jacquet is better than Arsene Wenger or Guy Roux?

    A good side, good fortune and a decent manager can win a WC - different pressures to winning a league title over 9 months.

    His time with a hugely gifted Portuguese team was fundamentally disappointing. A technically inferior English side twice took them to penalties in 04 & 06, and no-one can convince me that winning shoot-outs is down to great management - no, if managed properly Portugal would have beaten England (injury hit in 04 and down to ten in 06) in normal time.

    In WC 2006 in Portugal v Holland we all saw the blatant gamesmanship and frankly, downright cheating, that characterised Palmeiras in the late 1990s. Scolari was widely despised by most in Brazil then, with some justification, and was not a popular choice to manage the national team. At 2002 the level of competition was poor, and frankly who wouldn't have won that tournament with Ronaldo, Rivaldo, Ronaldinho, Cafu and Roberto Carlos at their disposal?

    I don't think there's any deep reason why Brazilian coaches haven't cracked Europe - Argentinians certainly have, so there's no huge continental divide. Brazil has simply not produced that many truly great managers. Possibly the erratic nature of the domestic game doesn't allow them to build a side of a few seasons in the way promising Europeans get the opportunity to is the cause. They may be overly-fixated on the short-term, even more than we see here in Europe.

  • Comment number 40.

    39 - no, I don't think that Scolari had been built up too high - his ex-players usually speak well of him - Tino Asprilla told the Argentine media that Scolari was the best he ever worked with.

    I do wonder, though, about his cultural skills. I saw him give a lecture to Braziian coaches about his time with Portugal and was struck by one thing - he talked about hiw he'd had early problems after losing a friendly 3-0 to Spain. He'd treated it as an opportunity to experiment, fielded an understrength side and got walloped - only then did he discover the importance of the match in terms of local pride.

    I thought this was an extraordinary admission. Making such a mistake reveals an alarming lack of cultural sensitivity. How could he not be aware that for Portugal no game against Spain is ever really a friendly? How could he be so unable to see the world through their eyes?

    Obviously I'm too far away to know what was going on behind the scenes at Chelsea, but I wonder if such clod-hopping early clumsiness was responsible for the loss of Steve Clarke.

  • Comment number 41.

    This is a good article, Tim. You have added some relevant points to what has been written in the British press about Big Phil.

    Like you, I am puzzled about Chelsea giving Scolari the heave before the Champions League knockout starts. He knows all about getting a team motivated and playing his way in "tournament" conditions. I presume this involves getting the best out of the players you have got and being aware and planning for whatever the opposition might do against you. Perhaps Scolari's Achilles heel was getting in some useful players of his own in critical areas of the field - his signings were hardly awe-inspiring. Tightening of the Roman purse-strings maybe. Scolari started out looking for devastating wing-play from his full-backs, which would have given him width across the field and generated opportunities for his central striker(s) and Frank Lampard. That would have been a "Brazilian" way to play the game, but it never happened. Scolari is accused in the British press of lacking a "Plan B" when things do not go right, and he was too easily flummoxed by sides packing ten men behind the ball, especially at Stamford Bridge. Is is possible to play with a samba beat in the Premier League? On this evidence, I suspect not.

  • Comment number 42.

    Excellent article as usual Tim, best on the BBC.

  • Comment number 43.

    Tim - thanks for the direct response (original post 39).

    Your Portugal-Spain analogy rings true of his time in the PL. Answering 'I don't know' when asked what went wrong after the defeat at Old Trafford may have been honest, but it didn't sit well with fans. They'd rather have at least say something like 'we made too many mistakes' or 'too many players performed below Chelsea's standards' - something that suggested he would take drastic action in due course, not a comment that left you wondering if was totally out of his depth.

    Similarly (and I am not from the anti-foreigner, English are best brigade) losing English players like Wright-Phillips and Bridge and replacing them with Portuguese (Deco and Quaresma) smacks of the Houllier era at Liverpool, wherein he had an 'in' to his constant stream of French 'superstars'. Frankly fans, certainly in England, would rather see a team lacking drive and performance introduce young local players rather than players seen as the manager's pets. Again its a case of understanding the culture he's working within. Ask any Chelsea fan who their best three players have been this season and most say Lampard, Terry and A Cole. It may be coincidence they're all English, but fans do wonder. Meanwhile, Deco and Quaresma had been discarded by big clubs for their bad attitudes... A few days after Scolari goes Ray Wilkins gives Michael Mancienne the debut Scolari thought he wasn't worth. He preferred Portuguese speaking Alex.

    Seem Scolari is a man of football, but isn't very worldly. His first job in a non-Portuguese speaking country, and he starts to build a Little Portugal. I'm not surprised by the outcome, and actually think only the boost of a fresh perspective will get Chelsea past Juventus - there was no way based on recent performances Chelsea would reach the CL QF - so I can thoroughly understand the timing of his departure.

  • Comment number 44.

    Nice insights Tim. Good stuff.

    As has been said this current Chelsea side was assembled by Senhor Jose Mourinho to suit his way of proceeding. To a large extent the guys delivered then. Frequent changes at the helm keep everyone guessing, players included.

    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

  • Comment number 45.

    "obvious card to play in a country obsessed with the figure of the absent father. ..."

    er which country are you talking about here?
    England, Wales or Scotland?

  • Comment number 46.

    Like #20 said. The only Brazilian coach who was successful in Europe was Zico in Turkey. The article is spot on, Brazilian teams have Brazilian players and a few "gringos" who speak Spanish (which is pretty close to Portuguese) and their mentality is similar. While European teams are multinational ones.

    Oh keep sth in mind as well, Zico has never coached a team in Brazil. He had to adapt in Japan first...

    P.S. Some successful (in lower level of course) Brazilians worked in Portugal. The answer to that is a bit obvious...

  • Comment number 47.

    Re top English pundits - Comment No 29......I think you are forgetting the insightful analysis provided by one Mr Pleat. 'Evening Clive, evening everyone'.

    Come on COV!

  • Comment number 48.

    Agree some points with comment 34.

    There is clearly a link between a lack of English pundits and a lack of quality English managers/quality Scottish managers and pundits.

    But Linekar is a presenter, like Des Lynam and Richard Keys.

    I love Kamara, but thats because he is more a babbling loudmouth comedian. He doesn't exactly 'talk tactics'.

    David Pleat is the icing on the cake regarding English pundits. Him and Kamara would make a great tag team commentary duo.

  • Comment number 49.

    Tim - when you use the example of Sao Paulo beating Liverpool in 2005 to support your arguement I have to wonder if you even watched that match? Liverpool were far superior on the day and as I recall only the ineptitude of the officials (think about the incorrect offside decision) prevented Liverpool from winning. I think it's also fair to say Sao Paulo more than rode their luck that day!

  • Comment number 50.

    The cultural element is perhaps the most fascinating element of this;

    In hindsight, there might have been a few things that gave away cultural naivety (an “I don’t know why we lost” response after losing against their biggest rivals) but bringing in a Portuguese and Brazilian contingent would probably have worked if he had brought the right-ones; he brought Deco, an ageing, jaded, fading star, Mineiro, who I don’t think even got a game, and Quaresma, who by the time hecame over, Phil had left.

    Scolari strikes me as a sort of Brazilian Harry Redknapp, a straight-talking, tough-guy manager, and people in England warmed to him initially because of his animated, no-nonsense persona that translates in most cultures.

  • Comment number 51.

    Tom I completely disagree with your views on Scolari. I thought from day one he was over-rated and a disaster waiting to happen at Chelsea.

    I think a lot of english journalists and fans are blinkered by the fact he has been the reason for the national teams demise at the last three competitions for which they qualified. This gave the impression he was unbeatable. And even the F.A persued him, under the cant beat them join them idea..

    Look at his record, fair enough a couple of Copa Libatadores, but losing to Greece at home in the Euro 2004 final, then losing to Germany last year, a very poor german team i must add show when it comes to the big, big games he is a let down.

    Then his main selling point, winning the World Cup with Brazil. They finished 3rd in the qualifying group, even behind Ecuador, only 3 points above 6th place Columbia. Then progress through a mickey mouse group featuring Costa Rica and China, while struggling past Turkey. They defeat, Belgium, England, Turkey again before beatinng a german team without their captain and best player Michael Ballack.

    So in the most un-competitive World Cup which featured South Korea in the semi-finals Scolari made his name on the world stage. His signings for Chelsea alienated himself from the backbone of Chelsea's success,(Cech,Terry & Lampard). He failed to get tough with Drogba, continually picked the under-performing Deco, had no plan B or C when teams figure out how to play against his 4-5-1 with attacking full backs, particularly at home, and his subsitions never realy made an impact on the outcome of games, big games!

    In the end his record at Chelsea is extremely poor to Mourinho and even Grant, who I dare say could have lead Brazil to glory in 02. He will always argue he never had the time, and no trophies are won in February, but I for one am delighted that, a myth (for me anyway), that Luiz Felipe Scolari is regarded as one of the top coaches in world football has finally been busted!

    Thank you for reading!

  • Comment number 52.

    #51 very interesting perspective; he had knocked England out of the last two tournaments (2002 and 2006, what was the third?) so on some level an English team, he knew how to make an English team win.

    But the poacher-turned-gamekeeper thing doesn't always work.

  • Comment number 53.


    Euro 2004 was in between in which Scolari's Portugal eliminated England on penalties.

  • Comment number 54.

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

  • Comment number 55.

    #49 - "Both times the Brazilian sides were heavily outgunned. But they fought from a trench, frustrated their opponents and broke out to score a single goal"

    At no point did he say that Sao Paolo were superior to Liverpool. I also think we used up all of our luck earlier that year!

  • Comment number 56.

    #49 - "Both times the Brazilian sides were heavily outgunned. But they fought from a trench, frustrated their opponents and broke out to score a single goal"

    At no point did he say that Sao Paulo were superior to Liverpool. I also think we used up all of our luck earlier that year!

  • Comment number 57.

    Replay for the comment 51 brianbyrne777

    I am a true Brazil (Manutd Also)fan from India

    'They finished 3rd in the qualifying group, even behind Ecuador, only 3 points above 6th place Columbia.'
    It is true, but think,but Brazil was slipping away from their world cup birth at that stage.Scolary got only 5 games as their coach in qualify round.I think brazil sacked 2-3 coaches in world cup 2002 south American qualifying round .Brazil was not the favorites for that time and came as an ordinary team.I think Argentina and France were favorites but both eliminated in first round.It is sure if Scolari was not the coach,Brazil would not get the trophy.

    'Then progress through a mickey mouse group featuring Costa Rica and China, while struggling past Turkey'.The grpup was not easy.brazil defeated them with their style,courage and strength.They defeated costorica 5-3.Is it an aesy group?.Defeated England (Full of stars) after trailing for a goal and a man.Brazil -Turkey SF match was very tight and Brazil won the match 1-0 only with there experience and mental strength.

    'So in the most un-competitive World Cup which featured South Korea '...Compared to last worl cup,2002 was more competitive one.
    What happened to brazil in 2006,they came as group champions from latin america,and failed in QF.They were the favourites...

    Then Scolari in Chelsea,with an aging squad ,what he can do?.Even if it was JM,definitely sacked..We can see what GH will do for Chelsea and when he will be sacked...

  • Comment number 58.

    48........Now you're talking......Pleaty and Kammy what a duo. Would the beeb be able to tempt Kammy away from Sky? I'd certainly be willing to pay an extra 10 quid a year for him.

  • Comment number 59.

    #16) 'totally agree with the points you make about the utd game...

    what a pity there appears to be no club with the guts to sack a player who obviously has given up trying; in business, it doesn't matter how much cash you spend training a player, or how much you paid for a vaccancy to be filled by an agency, no-one is indespensible, yet here we are at a time when even the top clubs in the UK are feeling the pinch, and still players seem above the basic principle of employment..." if you don't do your job properly, you're out!"

  • Comment number 60.

    Scolari will be the Premiership, and I think I know where he might end up.............Manchester City.

    Much as I like and admire Mark Hughes as a manager, I just don't think he'll get the time ne needs to fashion a City side capable of breaking into the top 4. They may not get a UEFA spot for next season either as they are just not consistent enough. I think the only way they (City) can hang on to Robinho ( and to a lesser extent, Jo) is if they make Scolari their next boss. There is no way that Robinho will still be at City next season unless they are playing in Europe - and I don't think they will be. But if they get Scolari then players like Robihno may just be persuaded to forgo a season of European football because Scolari would be at the helm.

    I'm not wanting Hughes to go but I think the sheikh is keeping tabs on Scolari and is waitingfor the right moment. Hughes should have stayed at Blackburn as I believe they (Blacknurn) would be pushing clubs like Everton for a Uefa place, instead Rovers have gone backwards since Hughes left.

  • Comment number 61.

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

  • Comment number 62.

    I think that past achievements count for nothing when people come from overseas to coach English teams. Anything can happen with even the (seemingly) best qualified candidates.

    Who would have thought that Grant, with his limited (to say the least), experience at the top level of football would have dragged chelsea through such a terrible injury crisis last year to lead them to the brink of the biggest titles in football? His team's victory over Liverpool in the CL semi was magnificent. He did as good a job as anyone could have under the circumstances.

    Then we get an inflexible, seemingly clueless bloke who inspired increasingly less confidence with each passing week, who wouldn't even face the press. So what if he's won the world cup? Chelsea have gone backwards in defence and attack; they're vulnerable and predictable. Some of the players didn't seem to like Scolari. Maybe if they were all Brazilian they could've related to him. Maybe that's why the only people he signed speak portuguese, likewise all the others we've been linked with.

    Just goes to show it's all about man-management at the top level. Guus has this reputation so i'm hoping for the best. He has worked all over with people from all parts of the world. It all looks so obvious now eh?

  • Comment number 63.

    #62 might look obvious to you now, but let's not forget that almost all of the successes that have made Guus' name have been on the international stage, not in the club game. Chelsea might be replacing one international manager with another.

  • Comment number 64.

    Great stuff as always Tim, and bang on the money.

    Despite Scolari's obvious shortcomings though, he clearly never got enough time. I feel the signing of a proper winger or Robinho could've made a big difference.

    To post 31 - I believe it was Chelsea who announced it during the Euros, not Scolari?

  • Comment number 65.

    #51 - Scolari only took charge of Brazil towards the end of world cup qualifying, after Brazil had been through several coaches and were in real danger of not making it to Korea and Japan. Scolari came in and turned things around, taking them from struggling to qualify to becoming world champs.
    So, I think its wrong for you or anyone to dismiss such an achievement because winning the world cup is the most difficult thing in football, its not like club management, where if a coach misses out on the title they only have to wait a year to have another go. The world cup only comes along every 4 years and a coach is usually only given one shot.

    Also, dismissing Scolari's record with Portugal is just plain wrong. I mean we're hardly talking about an international team with a cabinet full of silverware, are we?
    Even with their so called 'golden generation' of Figo, Rui Costa and co in their prime, Portugal best achievement was a euro semi in 2000. So, considering Portugal's international history, a final, a semi and a quarter in 3 goes is not a bad record.

    As for Chelsea, I agree with those saying Scolari was the wrong man for the job, but not because he's over-rated. The reason I think he was the wrong man, is that if you believe what you read, Abramovich got rid of Mourinho because he didn't like the style of football being played and brought in Scolari to bring the beautiful game to Stamford bridge, but this really just shows how poorly advised Abramovich is, because Scolari is not a purist (never has been, never will be) he's a pragmatist and as a result was never going to deliver the style of football Abramovich wanted.
    Still, 7 months is a joke and its a good job Alex Ferguson had a more realistic chairman at Man U because he struggled for several years at the club before turning things around.

    People also need to remember when Mourinho took over at Chelsea he inherited a hungry young squad and an open cheque book. Scolari on the other hand took over an aging squad with a limited budget, so trying to compare the 2 is pointless because one had such a huge advantage over the other and who's to say if Scolari had of been given the same privilege Mourinho got, he wouldn't have been just as successful?

    The reality is being considered a good coach can have just as much to do with luck and circumstances as it has with ability.

  • Comment number 66.

    I think you're barking up the wrong tree with the multiculti thing, or at least it's not the most important thing compared to training, tactics and organisation as others have said.

    I remember Mourinho's Brazilian assistant saying how old hat Brazilian training techniques were.

    Has there been much introspection and self criticism in Brazil about another coaching flop, or are they blaming nasty Europeans?

  • Comment number 67.

    Tim I loved this article, mainly because of a couple of spot-on cultural insights. The "gringo" culture is still a depressing reality of Brazilian football journalism (less so amongst the fans, strangely) - I´ve lost count how many times I´ve seen the word used in supposedly respectable newspapers regarding foreign players (including those from countries such as Uruguay and Chile) playing here. And the missing father figure reference - so many Brazilian footballers are young men from underprivileged backgrounds with absent fathers - and there´s no doubt that a lot of successful coaches here help fill that gap - Sobis sobbing into Braga´s chest after Inter won the Libertadores springs to mind. I´m not saying this was the only reason for Scolari´s problems - of course it wasn´t - but let´s just say it´s a hell of a lot easier to build team spirit amongst a group of players from similar social and cultural backgrounds with a shared language than it is to play happy families with malcontents like Ballack and Drogba. No comment on tactical failures or otherwise - life is much to short to spend worrying about Chelsea´s defence (or lack of).

    All the best, James

  • Comment number 68.

    The characteristic is Brazilian defences is organization, of midfielders holding the ball and of strikers individual skill and the ability to beat a player in the final third. One can see why Scolari wanted Robinho. With Joe Cole out, he had no one to fulfil the last part of his approach.

    Of course Chelsea were mad to sack Mourinho, who seems able to move from Portugal to London to Milan and remain a winner with a different group of players and a far greater technical flexibility adapted to players available.

  • Comment number 69.

    I don't understand the premise of the article: Is this an analysis of Scolari's failure, or, as you briefly touched upon in the opening paragraph, a critique of Brazilian coaches in Europe?

    If the former is true, then I agree with what some of the posters earlier on in the thread have said and that Scolari's "failings" are far more indicative of the circus currently being run, not only at Chelsea, but at the top table of almost every autocratically run football organisation the world over. To deem a team still fighting on 3 significant fronts, in the kind of slump almost every side goes through at some point in a season and still only 5 points from the premiership summit in February with 15 games still left in the season, is ridiculous by anyone's standards.

    However, if the latter is true and what you're saying is that Brazillian coaches, plural, struggle in Europe then again, Tim, I have to challenge that notion.

    From memory, I'd say there's 5 higher profile Brazilian coaches to have made the move East down the years. They are:

    Otto Gloria - coached Benfica in the 50's and 60's on 2 separate occasions. He lead them to 4 league titles and 4 cup successes during his tenure.

    Zico - who, in two seasons at Fenebache won a league and a cup and lead the club to her greatest ever European showing, when reaching the quarter finals of last seasons champions league.

    Luxembergo - started promisingly, winning 72% of his first 23 games, but would eventually end trophyless and somewhat clueless by the latter part of his time in charge and paid the inevitable price being the coach of Real Madrid leads one to.

    Parreira - the less said about his time in charge of Valencia, the better. Took the role after leading Brazil to her 1st world cup victory in 24 years, didn't manage to last the season.

    Scolari - sacked by Chelsea due to standards no manager in world football could hope to maintain. Didn't do a poor job but circumstances conspired against him in the end, with little in the way of money to spend, injuries depriving him of significant personal and an ageing squad not as hungry as is necessary.

    I'm sure there are a fair few more than 5 coaches to have made the pilgrimage East and coached in Europe, but, considering there isn't a long line of them jumping from memory these 5 are a fair enough sample from whom to compare and contrast. The fact that this list shows a 40% success rate - if we deem Scolari a failure - doesn't exactly lend itself to the train of thought this article takes.

    As with any country that has it's fair share of managers working abroad, some have been successful, some not so much, and the fact that of these 5 famous cases, almost 50% have managed to forge themselves successful tenures, I'd say it's extremely harsh and greatly unfair to even pose the question "why do Brazilian coaches struggle in Europe." They don't, some do...

  • Comment number 70.

    sir herbert - your lordship, you can only think of 5 in nearly 60 years, only one of whom was an unqualified success (and that in Portugal)

    I think you've just proved the premise of the article!

    I'm told by Turkish fans (and it came as a surprise because it's not our perception) that Zico was not considered a great success at Fener.

    Luxemburgo - that 3-0 defeat at home to Barca - it could easily have been 12-0- pulled the rug. I remember Roberto Carlos saying after he was sacked - he didn't adapt to us, we didn't adapt to him.

    We're talking here about the country that has won the World Cup 5 times - and we can't come up with a single case of a Brazilian coach who was an unqualified success in one of the major European leagues. I think that's premise enough for an article.

  • Comment number 71.

    Wel written articlle.

    While Jury is out on Scolari's ability to manage at club leve, i have t take issue on some comments about his acheivment as national manager.

    First of #4, South American qualyfying is not easy, and in fact perhaps one of the most difficut, it is one long death march. Teams travels to very hostile places. Teams like Argentina and Brazil have most of their players playing I Europe, which puts even more strain on these teams. Teams like Peru and Uragauy pplay a very brutal and fast style at home. These mathces are like war.
    Secondly, sompe people are getting carried away about Portugal. Portugal under Scolari have acheievd their best ever results. Sime-final in world cup and finals in Euros (so waht if they were at home, England, Holland couldn't manage to reach the finals at home).

    Chelsea were simplu not good enough, and
    with Essian and to lesser extent Joe Cole, they are just somewhat above average.

  • Comment number 72.

    #65, agree with everything you say. I'm Brazilian and Gremio supporter, therefore I have followed Scolari's career very closely. He was the most pragmatic of the Brazilian successful coaches, ever. Downplaying his huge achievements is just silly.

    People, especially some Portuguese supporters don't give him credit for making some past-prime and not-good-enough players play hard and like a unit. Even C. Ronaldo wasn't that great then, his finishing was non-existent at that point. They had no reliable striker whatsoever and no reliable goal keeper. His personal choice, Ricardo was just a bit better than the overrated Vitor Baia.

    All in all, I think Vic is spot on, but his English certainly did not help his father figure approach. Not knowing the footballer slang in English might have hurt him more than people realize.

  • Comment number 73.

    Tim - can you name any more than the 5 I've brought up? I don't think this proves the premise at all; in fact it beggars a completely different question: "why don't more Brazilian coaches generally make the pilgrimage East." Your blog does far more to answer this question than it does the one you've posed. Unless, of course, you can put together a list of Brazilian coaches more far reaching than mine...

    Zico was a success. He may not have been popular with fans, but a league, a cup and their greatest ever European display, all achieved under him, makes him a success by anyone's standards.

    Luxembergo, I agreed. He started well enough, but would eventually descend into farce; lacking authority, connection and, quite frankly, a clue.

    Gloria may well have "only" coached in Portugal, but was successful nonetheless. He would duly go on to lead Portugal to her greatest ever international achievement; 3rd place at the 1966 world cup.

    It's unfair to dismiss him simply because he coached in a league that today, isn't as strong as the major one's around Europe. Back then, the Portuguese league wasn't a million miles behind the standard of the rest of Europe; leagues which were totally dominated by one, maybe two teams, at best. I'm sure you're aware that these leagues weren't saturated with the kind of talent we see today, the talent was far more concentrated and the leagues poorer for it. It can, therefore, hardly be held against Gloria that he was successful during a time when differences throughout Europe weren't as vast as they are today.

    I understand the country we're discussing, but again, I do believe the premise of the article should thus be changed as, unless you can come up with a list more extensive than my own - and I'm sure you can - then I'm sticking by my guns on this one and reiterate that the premise should duly be changed. Not that I'm trying to tell you how to do your job, however!

    P.S. "Your Lordship?" Really?! I like it!

  • Comment number 74.

    40 - Tim you said: "his ex-players usually speak well of him - Tino Asprilla told the Argentine media that Scolari was the best he ever worked with."

    I'd be inclinded to distrust the testimonies of ex-players (particularly someone like Asprilla). In most cases I'd suggest that players would say a manager is the best they've worked with because he gave them first team football, had a friendly relationship with him and in some cases let them away with murder.

    I'm not saying Scolari isn't all he's cracked up to be but that, for me, ex-players' opinions aren't that valuable when considering the ability of a coach. For every Aprilla there'll be a Drogba who disliked him.

  • Comment number 75.

    70 - Tim, what of the referees in this country? How is there supposed to be a 'Respect' campaign when the referees are making the sort of decisions that we have seen this season? Respect is a two-way street. That the FA are unable to take action retrospectively is a becoming a real problem, especially when they pick and choose when to uphold this self-governing law! Any UEFA panel would have seen that Rooney's aggressive performance against Aalborg was bordering on criminal in nature, yet nothing happened. Jose Bosingwa did a kung-fu kick on Yossi Benayoun just a metre from the linesman, yet nothing happens. Then you have occassions where cards DO get rescinded by the FA, and then there are situations where the FA actually take retrospective action such as the recent ban handed to Jermaine Beckford.
    The FA of England are in a position of great power but are not regulated by any body outside of the FIFA family, who are themselves not free of allegations of corruption and bribery. Why is it that every person in football is open to criticism and assessment but the FA are not? The FA aren't even a public body according to legislation, they don't have the legal boundaries to dictate that they should act in the best interests of the public even.
    There needs to be an overhaul at Soho Square and it needs to have an input from football fans and not so much from football clubs. The element of 'sport' is now lost on clubs as they operate with the primary target of making money and not winning trophies. We, as football fans, pay for these enterprises and we should be entitled to have a say in how our Football Association is run. The idea of an FA has gotten to the point where you can't imagine 'normal' people running it because you surely need a suit, a Jaguar car and a mansion in Buckinghamshire to even get in the front door of Soho Square. Somewhere along the way the actual notion of an FA has gotten lost.

  • Comment number 76.

    Post no 10- Thiago Neves was signed by an Arab club who then loaned him back to Fluminense.

    Tim, as a close follower of Brazilian football myself (Inter), I think it would be worthwhile explaining a key tactical diffence between football in Brazil and England with regards to what is known in Brazil as the 'lateral' position.

    This is something which I think is often overlooked when examining players and coaches from Brazil who fail to succeed or adapt.

    In Brazil, the majority of club teams play a 4-2-2-2 formation which is not a typical 4-4-2 with four players in a line across the midfield as we (UK, Europeans) are familiar with.

    Instead, Brazilian club's generally adopt a shape using two holding defensive midfielders with two creative playmakers in advance of them with two forwards playing up front.

    In this shape, the width is expected to come from the 'lateral' or more familiar to UK fans, the full back. The lateral is expected not just support the defence but to get forward and provide the width for the team. In the UK, we would traditionally expect the wingers to undertake this role but wingers, are not commonly used in Brazillian football.

    Of course, many clubs in Europe will play attacking full backs, but in a 5-3-2 formataion with wing-backs. These will almost always play in advance of three central defenders - not just two as in Brazil.

    This in turn explains why Brazilian club's produce a large number of explosive attacking full backs or wing backs as how their deployed often in Europe - Maicon and Daniel Alves for example.

    This is something which took me a while to realise and understand about Brazilian club football but it just goes to show the difference in footballing culture when there is a completely different position involved.

    Hope this makes sense!

  • Comment number 77.

    Scolari was not alone in selecting players that he was familiar with - that's a fairly widespread thing - just look at some of the buys of mssrs Wenger, Mourinho and, probably the biggist culprit - Benitez.

    In Scolaris case, however much we can all dwell on his glittering career of the past, but, he simply was not up to the task of managing a premiership team - maybe not ANY top-flight european team.

    His expertise is clearly at South American club, or at International level.

  • Comment number 78.

    Following on from 76s point, I also share the opinion that part of the reason behind Brazilian coaches failure in Europe, comes from European players inability to play and adapt to Brazilian style football. You only have to look at Chelsea for a perfect example of this.

    When Scolari first took over, the first thing he did was to get Chelsea to play in what would be considered a typically Brazilian way - narrow through midfield, relying on the fullbacks for attacking width. At first this took the Prem by storm and saw Chelsea make a great start to their league campaign, but after a while other Prem coaches started to cotton on to the fact, that if you can nullify the fullbacks attacking runs, you could cripple Chelsea's forward play. From that moment on, Chelsea started to struggle week in week out to break sides down, with the Chelsea midfielders appearing to lack the technical quality to retain and work the ball in tight narrow spaces.

    Listen to Scolari's own comments after his sacking - "Chelsea don't have any special players" - a clear belief on his part that Chelsea simply didn't have good enough technical players to play the way he wanted.

    Of course, this still shows an inability and a lack of adaptability on Scolari's part; not recognize the problem and adjust his formation and tactics accordingly, to get the best out of the players at his disposal, but it also illustrates that when it comes to ball skills, Europeans are still inferior to their Brazilian counterparts - a point recently supported by Marcello Lippi following Italy's friendly defeat to Brazil, where he remarked that Brazilian players are still the best in the world with the ball at their feet.

  • Comment number 79.

    #76 - Colorado_Matt

    Very good points on the tactical differences. I actually think that Europe is beginning to mimic the role of the attacking full-back. However, i think it is being utilized in a negative way.

    There is certainly a new breed of full back in England. The likes of Clichy, Evra, Sagna, Cole, Bosingwa, and Rafael have key attacking roles as well as defensive ones. However, although this seems an attacking move, it means that these full backs are often the ONLY source of width. Teams are not combinging attacking full backs with wingers - full backs are replacing wingers. No one can convince me that full backs, even as attacking ones as Dani Alves, are more of an attacking threat than traditional wingers who start 40 yards or so further up the pitch.

    It's all part of the new tactic of packing the midfield. Wingers are pushed into the middle as teams look to nullify the opposition. Therefore, having attacking full-backs is not always an attacking option - it can often be a pragmatic one.

  • Comment number 80.

    On why Brazilian coaches don´t do well in europe. Time will tell if this is really true.
    One thing that I know id that after living in Brazil for more than 12 years, I think I can say that I understand the Brazilian way to manage football.
    Over here if you are a talented player you are treated like god, as long as you score goals. You can train seriously if you want or not. Brazilian managers , in general, don´t have a recognised training plan other that some set pieces. You never see Brazilian teams playing set pieces in open play like certain off the ball runs.
    Sao Paulo football team, in my opinion, comes the closest to what I would call a professional football team.
    Unless the manager is prepared to sacrifice some of these brazilian football values and get to understand how the country he is working in plays their football, he is destined for failure while working abroad.
    I would like to mention on the other hand that Zico to me is the exception and his record would stand out.
    I would like to wish Felipao good luck in his next adventure, but have to say that I was not surprised at all that he did not make the grade at Chelsea.
    A fully pledged Man U fan.
    Robert Mickailides

  • Comment number 81.

    Hi Tim,

    Great article, as I say every time I comment! I have an quick and perhaps stupid question - I can't research this on the internet here because I am at work, and this website is only just about discrete enough! What time does the Universitario Lima v CA San Lorenzo de Almagro match kick off English time on Friday? I have a wager with a colleague of mine on a match which we know relatively nothing about every week (last week, unbelieveably, he got the exact score and ALL of the scorers in the Ankaragucu v Gazientepspor match in Turkey, I had to find the goals on Youtube to believe it!). This week I've picked the Copa Libertadores match - we can only use Wikipedia to research so please no inside tips!

    Thanks Tim, sorry for the relatively trivial nature of my question!

  • Comment number 82.

    79 -

    Just look around the Premier League and European football and think of how many traditional 'out and out' wingers there actually are these days. There really aren't that many. Maybe the trend of the winger is dying out?

    As for it being implemented negatively here to pack the midfield, it doesn't have to be this way. Sacraficing the wingers can lead to teams playing with two central midfielders who are free to attack and float around the edge of the box and pick up on the play. This can definately be a more postive and attacking approach, I guess it depends on the coach and his trust in his player's technical ability. Brazilian football seem to have an endless link of number 10 playmakers so the tactics used are made to fit accordingly. It's also worth noting that many of these full backs in Brazil start out as attacking midfielders in their younger days and are then moved back as a 'lateral'.

    78 -

    As for your point about Felipao and his fustration in his players, I have to wonder-

    Would he still be there now if Joe Cole wasn't injured?

    I think Joe Cole is just the sort of player Felipao was missing, who could unlock defences.

  • Comment number 83.


    Rooney's aggressive performance was bordering on a criminal nature? You must be joking! Did you actually see the match? If anything action should have been taken against Aalborg for the dangerous tackles they were putting in for the entire 90 minutes, which, by the way, they also did in the first match against United (Paul Scholes being injured in the first half? Rafael limping off?). The only thing in that match I saw Rooney do wrong was push someone who had been all over him when trying to make a tackle. He was riding fouls the entire game and all anyone focuses on is the fact that he accidently stepped on someone. The FA had no right to take any action, seeing as it was a UEFA event.

    I have to agree with you on the Bosingwa Kung-fu kick, though. How he escaped even a yellow I'll never know. Let's not forget that little incident in the Championship where, someone will have to fill in the gaps with this, that one player put another fella in intensive care with an elbow to the temple. The FA said they could charge him because there was no evidence that it was deliberate, and that he was going for the ball, but his feet were on the ground when he caught the other man. They seem to be getting less and less active nowadays in regards to violent on-pitch conduct, and more and more active when it comes to politicking referee performances. Then there's their much maligned inactivity on the youth development front. All this makes it seem as if they really couldn't care less about the players anymore, but rather protecting those in positions of authority - such as themselves and referees.

    If you can get a touchline ban for calling a ref on a poor performance, but not even a yellow for some kick boxing action 1-yard away from a linesman, it suggests something is wrong with the FA. *Cough*Incompetance?*Cough*

  • Comment number 84.

    81 - U v San Lorenzo - kick off 00.30 your time

  • Comment number 85.

    Tim - thanks very much for letting me know that K/O time, and I'll let you know our bets once they're made and maybe, if you can be bothered, you'll be able to say whether they're half decent predictions or not?! Using only info gathered from Wikipedia, we predict the score, goal scorers, time of goals, red cards and attendance (within 250 either way). For every bit of information you get right, you get one line on the lottery and with 6 lines combined on tonight, we may even be at the match! If so, I'll get you a beer or two to thank you for your help! Cheers Tim.

  • Comment number 86.

    Perhaps there is an element on all of this that we're overlooking and that is that maybe it's a good thing that this divide between Brazilian football and management versus their European counterparts exists and frustrates.

    I remember Julio Baptista compaining that in England at Arsenal he found there was more emphasis on solid tackling and pace in England than trickery on the ball when compared to Spain or Brazil. Forgive me if I'm misquoting but I think that's the rough sentiment of what he was saying. The amusing element to this compaint of course is that he's right but it's only a criticism if you think his interpretation of how football should be played is the 'right' one. It's a bit like someone saying a woman is unattractive because her hair is dark, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

    It has often been argued that Ronaldinho would not have found the success in the Premier League that he found in La Liga because his weaving dribbling and on the spot magic would have been snubbed out by 'traditional English centre backs' and the fact that the faster pace gives you less time on the ball. The literal truth of this is flimsy at best, this argument I suspect stems out of a mild case of bitterness that Ronaldinho felt La Liga was the highest level he could play at. However like all stereotypes and generalisations there is a nugget of truth at the centre. The emphasis on flair that South American football seems to have conflicts with the emphasis on fast paced football with high contact levels that personify the Premier League.

    How much of this is stereotyping, an outdated view of either Brazilian/English football or is plain nonsense can be argued by all and sundry. But what I think is certainly true is that whilst the rules may be the same in every country it is the way that different cultures adapt and play around them that create national styles and mentalities about Futball, Calcio or Soccer. Football is the most international of games and languages, I adore how it transcends borders and politics (usually) but I would never ever want it to be homogenized.

    If Ronaldinho or Wanderlay Luxembergo ever wind up at an English club I wish them the very best and would be happy to see them succeed where others have failed. But if they come over, fail to adapt either to our pace or our tactics, to our physicality or our media then part of me has a wry smile thinking that English football (just like French, Russian, American or Brazilian) isn't for everyone. You have to work hard at times to enjoy it, you have to stretch your imagination to understand it and quite frequently you have to remind yourself why you put yourself through it. Scolari will walk away with a fat pay checque and perhaps his ego a little bruised, some will say he failed and some will say he's a victim. Personally I think he's just a bit like a holiday maker who can see why people go somewhere, but just didn't really like it themselves.

  • Comment number 87.


    I agree that it doesn't necessarily have to be a negative move. However, no width requires clever, intricate passing through a defence - both Arsenal and Chelsea have struggled to break teams down at home this season. Unless you have top notch players then it's hard to breakthrough a packed defence.

    Another point - It's another trend to play with one striker, again in order to pack the midfield. What is the point of having wingers if there is one striker in the box?

  • Comment number 88.


    Arsenal do have very good players though, Van Persie is one of my personal favourites. But remember Man United a few years ago? Quality players: Giggs, Keane, Scholes, Blanc, Van Nistelrooy, Beckham, Solskjaer etc, etc. But from about 2002 to 2007 they won very little. One of the main reasons was that they were experimenting with different players to fill the role of players close to the end of their careers, they also, through this period, sold off a few players who they perhaps shouldn't. But mainly it was, I think, the same thing that happened even further back in time, after they won their first European Cup. They had an aging squad to replace, and so did fergie after 99. With Arsenal I think it's a case of when the team will gel, the players are certainly good enough to bring home trophies. But with Chelsea, on the other hand. Well, Fergie said it himself, when you get veteran players in who've conquered the world, no matter how good they are, they're not going to have the same drive year after year like the young ones will. With Scolari it comes down to nearly everything mentioned here, that despite being an obviously World Class manager, he probably didn't do his homework on the job before hand, and didn't know what he was getting himself into. Then there was the fact that he couldn't speak English very well, which made it hard to communicate with a squad wherein the majority of players spoke English as a second language, not a first, and therefore didn't have a fantastic knowledge of it themselves. Then there's his tactical mishaps, as you pointed out "what's the point of playing wingers when you're only fielding one striker?". There isn't much point, unless you have like likes of David Silva, C. Ronaldo, Messi, or Ronaldinho, who can create their own chances, and Chelsea don't. Then there's the fact that he's Chelsea's third manager in as many years. Oh, and the signings were either Brazilian or Portugese, which wont sit well with a naturally diverse squad. THEENNN there's the Mourinho factor. John Terry even said, at the start of the season, that he sees a bit of Mourinho's character in Scolari, which is practically saying "yeah he's not ideal for us, but he's better than that Grant fella". An intrusive Chairman, two petulant strikers, and then to top it all off, a few months in he's already lost a portion of the changing room, including a few key players, like Ballack. It's a recipe for disaster, and that's just what happened. Fair play to him for staying this long, but as was pointed out already; it didn't even look like he wanted to.

    The situation Scolari was in at that club I wish on no manager in the world, not even the ones I'm not especially fond of. Guus Hiddink has A LOT of work to do, starting with winning over the confidence of what now must be an extremely sceptical changing room.

    I also agree that Scolari was too paternal with his squad. You need to be able to raise your voice as a manager to get the players into a position where they respect and fear you. Fergie has this at United, and Wenger at least HAD it with Arsenal. Chelsea is a giant work in progress at this point, and some of the blame must fall on Scolari.

  • Comment number 89.

    Hi again Tim, what do you think of these predictions for tonight's game?

    We get points (or lottery tickets!) for each correct score, scorer, bonuses for minutes, and attendance within 250 either way.

    1. Universitario Lima 3 (Perillo 33, Calheira 80 and Orejuela 88) San Lorenzo 2 (Romeo 22 and Silvera 51)
    ATT 46598

    2. Universitario Lima 2 (Lambarthe 27 and Calheira 86) San Lorenzo 2 (Silvera 12 and Bergessio 62)
    ATT 56760

    Both of us think it's high scoring, and both think the altitude will play it's part in San Lorenzo tiring late in the game. Would be really interested to see what you think, and perhaps what you would predict.

    Thanks, Mark

  • Comment number 90.

    Hi Tim

    We are all aware of the pitfalls of Wikipedia, but now I've given up Football Manager (there is only so much life one can waste trying to sign 15 yr old Paraguayans for an assault on the 2012 Champions League), I like to check the squadlists of clubs around the world.

    Taking a look at Boca and River Plate today, I saw that both had young Haitian players - Sonny Norte (at Boca) & Judelin Aveska (at River). What's the story here? Is there a large Haitian community in Buenos Aires? Is Haitian football on the rise?

    More generally - what is the prevalance of foreign nationals in the Argentinian league? Are there any strange cases of non South Americans making a name for themselves in the Primera Division?

    Cheers mate


  • Comment number 91.

    89 - I think you've been thrown off course by a geographical error - Lima is at sea level!

    My prediction - Universitario to win 1-0 with a first half Solano penalty - I'll even be as bold as to forecast that Orion in the San Lorenzo goal might just get a hand to it as he dives right, but not enough to prevent the goal.

    It's funny how making predictions after the event always improves my success rate.


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