Scolari made a great first impression…
You have to give credit where credit is due. Luiz Felipe Scolari was absolutely brilliant in his first press conference as Chelsea manager last week. Not only was he friendly, charming and humorous, he also conducted the whole thing in English.
He certainly responded in the best way possible to those who have labelled him as a ‘bit of a mad man’ and said that he wouldn’t be able to communicate because he couldn’t speak the language.
Scolari was very confident without displaying the ‘over the top’ brashness of a Jose Mourinho and was far more passionate and focussed than the last incumbent, Avram Grant, could ever have hoped to have appeared or been.
Scolari answered everything that was asked of him and only once did he feel the need to use the services of his interpreter. That was when he was mischievously asked about whether he had given Cristiano Ronaldo any advice about leaving Manchester United. Scolari knew that the answer to that question had to be emphatic. He did eventually say that he had played no part in any decisions Ronaldo may have made. Whether Fergie will believe that remains to be seen!
Despite being calm throughout the conference it was still easy to see the ‘glint in his eyes’ and I am sure that he will provide top class entertainment for football fans and the media during the season. He was composed and very assured but when watching him you could never completely forget that he once punched an opposition player!
When England came calling for Scolari before they disastrously decided to give the job to Steve McClaren, it was claimed that he turned the job down because he didn’t think he could cope with the pressure and media intrusion. When asked about dealing with pressure he simply reminded everyone that he had been the coach of Brazil. There is not much more weight of expectation on any man in any job in the world.
It will be fascinating to see how Scolari does deal with the media and the pressure and also the intense rivalry that the media will do their best to create between him and Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger. Could it just be that the story about Scolari telling Ronaldo to leave Manchester United was just the start of a media campaign to build up the animosity between them?
If this first conference is anything to go by then Scolari will be more than a match for his fellow managers. As a World Cup winner and a big character, he has no reason to feel intimidated by the likes of Fergie. He doesn’t seem the type that would get psyched out. Actually, he seems the type who might lash out. Now that would be worth watching. The Brazilian brawler against the Scottish slugger. Not sure who my money would be on!
The new manager talked about his ambitions for Chelsea and whilst acknowledging the fact that the owner, ‘Mr Roman’ as he called him, wanted the team to play exciting football, he made it clear that winning football was what he traded in first and foremost.
Scolari said things that Chelsea fans would have been thrilled to hear. It would be great for him if what he said turns out to be true in relation to Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba. He said that Lampard wants to stay at Chelsea ‘for years’ and that Drogba is very much part of his plans. He confirmed that John Terry would remain as captain and that Lampard would remain as vice-captain. Of course, strong rumours suggest that Lamps was less than pleased with what Scolari said at the press conference but this could turn into a player against manager battle. I only see Scolari winning that one.
When reference to being the ‘special one’ was inevitably made he said that he was special, but only to his family and friends. In relation to being a manager he said he was only ‘so-so’. His record suggests that he is being a little modest there. Not something the other ‘special one’ can be accused of very often.
Despite an almost historic season last year Chelsea have been in the doldrums after finishing runners up in the Carling Cup, the Premier League and the Champions League. They need to win something in the coming season and they have unveiled a very impressive manager indeed who only accepts success.
He could not have made a better impression on Chelsea fans, the football watching public and the assembled media from around the world. He was word perfect and said all the right things.
It will be truly fascinating to see if he can turn Chelsea’s ‘nearly men’ into winners. It will be even more fascinating to see if Scolari, once the heat of the battle starts to rage, can keep up this calm and assured persona that he presented the other day. In many ways I kind of hope he doesn’t. It would be great to see the ‘wild man’ that he can allegedly be.
One thing is for sure. Whether we have a new calm Scolari or the old combustible one, the Premier League will be a better place for having him in it.