ItÃ¢ÂÂs been a week since Luiz Felipe Scolari gave his first press conference as ChelseaÃ¢ÂÂs head coach. By now, the Brazilian gaffer should have already deciphered all of the Stamford Bridge clubÃ¢ÂÂs mysteries. In his own words, seven days was enough for him to Ã¢ÂÂknow everythingÃ¢ÂÂ about Chelsea.But the Blues will surely take a little longer, if they ever will, to crack the coach formerly known as Big Phil. Make no mistake: the kind, patient, entertaining, smiley fella that showed up at the press conference wonÃ¢ÂÂt stay around for long.
As soon as the day-to-day work begins, the moody, emotional, picky, real Scolari will pop up. And then heÃ¢ÂÂll really be getting down to business. The Brazilian sergeant made his name not by pleasing people, much to the contrary. Throughout his career, he has been systematically challenging and upsetting those who have stood against him; and some of his major accomplishments came after he, following his guts, swam against the tide.A quick trip down memory lane shows that, in 2002, the whole of Brazil wanted high-flying RomÃÂ¡rio in the national team for the World Cup. Even ScolariÃ¢ÂÂs boss, the president of the Brazilian Football Confederation, was openly campaigning for Shorty. The gaffer chose to bet on a recovering Ronaldo, and the rest was history.
A year later, when Scolari took over as Portugal coach, one of his first missions was to naturalise the Brazilian midfielder Deco, who was starring at Porto. Many proud Portuguese, Figo included, roared. It was useless. Deco was called up to the national team and scored the winner on his debut in a friendly against Brazil. No one's complained ever since.
Ronaldo fires Brazil to World Cup glory
But now back to club matters. HeÃ¢ÂÂs going to deal with a handful of different tasks and report to many people, most notably, of course, Roman Abramovich. The mundane world of arrivals and departures, which in his national teams wasnÃ¢ÂÂt an issue, will now require a lot of his time and will surely provoke many disputes within Stamford Bridge.The first is already on. Caught in the middle of the fight between Frank Lampard and the club, Scolari misfired, assuring the player would stay, while it seems the owner wants to get rid of the midfielder. Since the Brazilian is just starting his term, it probably wonÃ¢ÂÂt undermine the relationship. However, Abramovich should be aware that he should handle his new coach with care. IÃ¢ÂÂve been reading many English journalists writing that Scolari will have to learn to deal with the Russian billionaire. For me, itÃ¢ÂÂs the other way around. AbramovichÃ¢ÂÂs truckload of money lured Scolari to London, but IÃ¢ÂÂm sure it wonÃ¢ÂÂt be enough to keep him if the Brazilian canÃ¢ÂÂt do things the way he wants. If Roman wants his Chelsea to go the extra mile, Scolari needs to stay.
Deco takes on his fellow countrymen
During their morning walks in Cascais, Portugal, my wifeÃ¢ÂÂs grandparents more than once came across Scolari tanning and relaxing at the beaches of the beautiful city, where the gaffer also lived during his Portuguese days. ItÃ¢ÂÂs heaven on Earth, a place that makes him Ã¢ÂÂsmile on the inside,Ã¢ÂÂ as he once said. (Needless to say that he also cashed in big while coaching the Seleccionado.)Leading Chelsea to Champions League glory is a challenge he will fully embrace, provided heÃ¢ÂÂs free to work. After all, Scolari will always be faithful to his Ã¢ÂÂmy way or the highwayÃ¢ÂÂ policy. Even if heÃ¢ÂÂs the one who takes the highway out of greyish London. No problem at all.Sunny Cascais is right there on the corner, always waiting for him.