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A new Scolari emerges

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Mihir Bose | 17:06 UK time, Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Signs of the new Luiz Felipe Scolari emerged at his news conference ahead of Wednesday's FA Cup replay with Southend.

Observe the tenor of his answers and you see a Scolari that takes no prisoners, and is willing to read the riot act to his players.
This is the message that Stamford Bridge is very keen to give.

Scolari's position, the Chelsea hierarchy insists, is not in jeopardy following the club's abysmal 3-0 defeat at Old Trafford on Sunday.

Nor has Scolari been summoned to appear in front of an emergency board meeting to explain his plight, let alone be given a stay of execution.
Indeed there is no emergency board meeting being held.

Chelsea boss Luiz Felipe Scolari

There is a routine monthly one but that is not due until February, shortly before Chelsea announce their financial results. Stamford Bridge dismisses any talk of getting rid of Scolari.

Indeed there is much affection for the manager and praise for the change in outlook he has brought to the club. Jose Mourinho may have been very successful but he was difficult to deal with and made Chelsea hard to like for many neutrals.

Scolari has been the exact opposite. Chelsea wanted a makeover in this regard and Scolari has achieved that.

The club also recognises that it cannot just keep on changing managers. Getting rid of Scolari would mean three managers going in the space of about 18 months.

He has not matched Mourinho's success on the field, not as yet anyway. But the talk at the Bridge is the club needs to be in contention for major honours at the end of the season. If that happens that would be acceptable, even if Scolari does not land an honour by the season's end.

But it is recognised that Scolari cannot carry on as he has so far.

What Scolari needs to do, say insiders, is be tough with the players. Show them who is boss. One well-placed source told me: "He has allowed his players to get on top of him. He needs to show he runs the team not the players, however well paid they may be or however high profile."

And Tuesday's news conference was meant to be the first sign of this.

Indeed Stamford Bridge insiders even picture the bust-up with Anelka over which position the striker should play in, very differently to the way some in the media have described it.

Yes, there was an argument. But instead of Anelka dictating terms, this was the manager laying down the law. It was never remotely a question of the argument imperilling Scolari's position as manager.

Scolari is well aware that there is no more money available in this transfer window. There is one player Scolari would have loved in his team, Robinho. Chelsea bid £28m for him in the summer but were famously outbid by Manchester City. The chance to buy him may yet come but not until the summer.

For the moment Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is not spending any more money on players. But this does not mean he has lost interest in the club. Chelsea are keen to emphasise that the Russian is not walking away from the club, despite all the talk of the impact the credit crunch has had on Russia and its billionaires.

The Chelsea accounts will show that the Russian owner has made a pledge that will keep him at the west London club. And it also seems that Scolari's current status is not in doubt.


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