Do We Still Think That Scolari Is a Messiah? the New Order: Did the Change in His Career Direction Impact on Chelsea-Bound Scolari and His Portugal Team as They Bowed out to Germany (Inset Top) and Their Tight-Shirted Coach Loew?
Byline: PAUL HAYWARD
CHELSEA'S snatch squad seized their man on the eve of Euro 2008, but thecoach they're bundling off to Stamford Bridge has been less successful witheach passing mission.
Let's cast aside the ethics of Roman Abramovich announcing Big Phil Scolari'scapture two games into Portugal's Alpine adventure. Let's call it a coincidencethat the Portuguese then lost their next two matches, 2-0 to feeble Switzerlandand 3-2 to Germany in Thursday night's victory for pragmatism over romance.
No wonder, the Portuguese have returned to these scorelines to ask whetherScolari's mind was diverted from his task, and how free he felt to attackChelsea's Michael Ballack for the heinous penalty-box push on Paulo Ferreirathat allowed the Germans to score their final goal.
The decisive act in a match that prompted a victorious Bastian Schweinsteigerto tell us 'It's the German virtues that have served us very well' drew only amild complaint from a coach who is likely to make Ballack one of his firstpicks come August.
For a manager to say he will be leaving after the tournament, as Bobby Robsondid before the 1990 World Cup, is a perfectly healthy statement of professionalreality.
There is clarity and transparency. But for Chelsea to make their declarationtwo games into this tournament now seems reckless and arrogant. Scolari'swillingness to go along with it might be explained by the fact that his Junepayslip shows a monthly cut of [pounds sterling]1m a year from the Portuguese FA while his Julyprint-out will record one-twelfth of [pounds sterling]6m from Chelsea.
No wonder he wanted to close the deal before Abramovich invited anyone else onboard his yacht.
Whenever the contract was agreed (and the flirtation with Milan's CarloAncelotti suggests Chelsea's plans were still fluid until hours before thechampionship kicked off), the confirmation of it turned Portugal's camp into anAlamo, and must have caused Scolari's thoughts to stray towards transfertargets, as well as Jose Mourinho's designs on some of Chelsea's finestplayers.
Then there were those encouraging noises to Cristiano Ronaldo about the gloriesof life at Real Madrid, Manchester United's biggest global rival. At the core,Portugal lost to Germany not because Scolari hit the jackpot with Abramovichbut because they were inept at defending German balls into their box. They fellto a masterclass in Teutonic strategy, which will have had English TV viewersbooting the sofa. How is it that the Germans have such an imposing record ofimpaling teams with more daring, panache, skill? ACLEVER bunch, with a niceline in self-deprecation, Germany are always happy to recite the script theworld expects to hear. …