Football: Scolari Will Bring Fire, Fury and Glory to England; WELCOME 'PHIL FROM BRAZIL': The Boss Who Is Not Afraid of the BIG Decisions or the BIG Names FORGET WHERE HE'S FROM, LOOK WHAT HE'S DONE

The Mirror (London, England), April 28, 2006 | Go to article overview
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Football: Scolari Will Bring Fire, Fury and Glory to England; WELCOME 'PHIL FROM BRAZIL': The Boss Who Is Not Afraid of the BIG Decisions or the BIG Names FORGET WHERE HE'S FROM, LOOK WHAT HE'S DONE


Byline: Martin Lipton CHIEF FOOTBALL WRITER

THE PREDICTABLE backlash has already begun, the John Bull brigade baring their teeth and talking about betrayal.

But while the imminent appointment of Luis Felipe Scolari as England boss is a savage indictment of the FA's inability to construct a coaching programme, getting the right man is far more important than getting the man with the right passport.

When it came to footballing credentials, rather than the hurdles initially put up by Premier League chief David Richards, Scolari ticked all the boxes that mattered - World Cup winner, European Championship finalist, twice a winner of the Copa Libertadores.

More importantly, he is strong and resourceful, tactically astute, and brave as a lion when it comes to making the tough decisions.

In the final analysis, as chief executive Brian Barwick and his colleagues backed away from their earlier choice of Steve McClaren to succeed Sven Goran Eriksson, that was the deciding factor.

As Barwick and FA lawyer Simon Johnson returned from Lisbon yesterday with an outline agreement for the Brazilian to take over at the conclusion of the World Cup, it was for once time to congratulate the Soho Square hierarchy for doing the correct thing. For all his faults, Eriksson has made English football respectable again after the dark days of Kevin Keegan and the messy aftermath that saw caretaker boss Howard Wilkinson tell the country to give up on the prospect of 2002 World Cup qualification following a miserable goalless draw in Finland.

It was no surprise Wilkinson, the League Managers' Association chairman and a former FA technical director, led the protests yesterday.

"The Football Association has a responsibility to do what it thinks is in the best interests of English football," he said.

"It's my opinion that this is not or would not be. It sends out the wrong messages from the FA to English coaches. Scolari's track record with Brazil is good but then name me a Brazil manager whose track record hasn't been good in the last 50-odd years? I can't think of one."

Try Emerson Leao and Wanderlei Luxemburgo, Scolari's immediate predecessors.

While Eriksson's England are back at the game's global high table and dreaming of World Cup glory, Scolari has the clout and charisma to take the team further forward.

He proved that in 2002 and two years later, both at the expense of Eriksson and England.

He almost faced a public lynching in Brazil when he left Romario out of his squad, despite the striker crying as he begged for the chance to go to the Far East.

The only tears that mattered, though, were the ones of joy in the eyes of Ronaldo and Co when - after passing England to death with just 10 men in the quarter-finals - they beat Germany to be masters of the football universe once again.

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Football: Scolari Will Bring Fire, Fury and Glory to England; WELCOME 'PHIL FROM BRAZIL': The Boss Who Is Not Afraid of the BIG Decisions or the BIG Names FORGET WHERE HE'S FROM, LOOK WHAT HE'S DONE
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