Is Scolari The Right Man For Chelsea?

Ok, while the media work themselves up into a long-awaited climax, we can all breathe a sigh of relief now that our next manager has finally been named. Shortly after Portugal’s win last night, Chelsea announced Luiz Felipe Scolari will take over where Avram Grant left off.

Now I’m going to have to be honest and say there’s a few things that surprise me about this. Firstly, having stated very clearly “I’m here as the Portugal coach and will work hard for them to the end of the Euros. What’s going to happen to me after the Euros, if I stay or go, concerns me and I’m not going to talk about it now. If I decide to stay or go, I will make a declaration after. If something happens during the Euros, I’m not going to answer. I started to work for Portugal for Euro 2004 and in 2006 signed again until 2008. I might sign again or I might leave. It’s a situation I’m going to examine, but I’m not going to answer this sort of question or talk about it and I’m going to stay quiet”, why then announce it in the middle of the tournament? If Chelsea are seriously looking at addressing the hatred from outside the club, surely an announcement with the potential to unsettle one of the top teams in Euro 2008 isn’t going to help our cause? I can only imagine that difficulties in persuading potential transfer targets to sign, along with problems agreeing extensions to current contracts has to be an underlying reason for the poor timing. Hopefully, Chelsea at least had the decency to ask Portugal’s permission first.

Something else that has me raising my eyebrows about this whole thing is Scolari’s apparent change of heart. Just think back to the England job and the reasons he cited for turning it down. When he dropped the FA in it back then, one of the main reasons was his reluctance to deal with media intrusion and what he actually said was “I don’t want anything more to do with this England matter because in the space of two days my life was invaded, my privacy was disrupted. Today there are still 20 reporters outside my home. This is not part of my life, and it never will.” So unless he’s suddenly become a lot more extrovert in his personal life, or is going to manage us Michael Jackson style complete with face mask and 32 bouncers, what’s changed? The amount of money offered maybe?

And the whole England debacle brings me to another concern with this appointment – is it actually a done deal? I mean, have Chelsea actually got his signature on the dotted line or is it all verbal so far? Because as much as I want to just move on and look forward to next season, it wouldn’t be the first decision he’d backed out of – and look who England ended up with as a direct result last time. Fingers crossed McClaren gets himself a job before July 1st.

Lastly, what about the stability Chelsea need from a manager, the sort of long-term stability Fergie’s brought to United or even Wenger at Arsenal for that matter? Given that Scolari’s been managing for 26 years and yet his longest stint in any one place during that time has been his 5 years at Portugal, the remainder being between 1-3 years, staying power doesn’t exactly seem to be one of his strongest attributes. Then again, with our own track record for changing managers like the weather, it’s pretty much a match made in heaven.

Anyway having got all my usual pessimism out the way now, should Scolari walk through the Stamford Bridge gates next month, what can we expect to see? Well, it’s a fair bet we’ll get to see a few histrionics since he’s well known for his fiery temper. No bad thing necessarily, it’ll be nice to see some signs of life in the dugout again. And a bit of discipline at Chelsea won’t do any harm either. Certainly, the players won’t miss Ten Cate’s sparring skills in training if Scolari’s left hook against Serbia’s Ivica Draqutinov was anything to go by. But on the flip side to that is his passion and love of the game – he’s totally animated whether things are going his way or not, and let’s be honest, after the past year Chelsea could really do with a bit of livening up. Plus, I’ve got a sneaky feeling his football might just be a little sexier than we’ve become accustomed to over the past few years.

So are the supporters happy? And what about the players? I’m sure the media will be dribbling as I write, dreaming up the latest player they can link now that Big Phil’s in charge. As for the players, well he does have a reputation as a ‘father figure’ to his lads (not Wenger style you understand) and that sort of trust in a manager is something Chelsea have sorely missed. As for us lot…………what do you reckon?