Scolari not the first to find the shadow of Mourinho inescapable
Neil Trainis AND so the transition from international football to its English equivalent proved too much for a man who has grown used to success in his career but has to now stare rare failure squarely in the face. Luiz Filipe Scolari never arrived at Stamford Bridge
AND so the transition from international football to its English equivalent proved too much for a man who has grown used to success in his career but has to now stare rare failure squarely in the face.
Luiz Filipe Scolari never arrived at Stamford Bridge preaching the benefits his own type of genius would bring to Chelsea, much like Jos� Mourinho did upon his arrival in the wake of securing Porto the 2004 Champions League.
Scolari appeared, at first glance, to be the complete antithesis of his predecessor, humble, quietly-spoken and with a refreshing sense of culpability for losing football matches.
Upon his unveiling as Chelsea's fourth manager in eight years he said he was "special" only to his family, a suggestion interpreted by some as a sarcastic gibe aimed at Mourinho but what was, in reality, a genuine attempt to disassociate himself from the club's most successful manager at a very early stage.
Yet from the moment he slipped on a Chelsea tracksuit and sauntered onto the training ground for his first session with the players, the barometer with which he would instantly be measured had an Iberian flavour.
- 1 Dagenham and West Ham accused in court after drugs raids
- 2 40 firefighters tackle Anchor Close blaze
- 3 Savvy driver saves ducks who had strayed onto the A13
- 4 TfL consultation opens on plans to extend ULEZ into Greater London
- 5 How many Covid patients are there in east London hospitals this week?
- 6 Iceland offers over 60s discount on shopping bill every week
- 7 Cycling festival coming to Barking
- 8 Dagenham cat with misshapen eye struggles to find home
- 9 Council leader on the borough's future, CPZs and receiving death threats
- 10 70 firefighters tackle Dagenham house fire
There was no escaping comparisons with Mourinho, no matter how hard Scolari tried to extricate himself from the self-styled "special one".
The club's supporters, as well as casual onlookers, wondered whether he would be able to win back the Premier League title the Portuguese won in pragmatic fashion on two occasions.
They waited with anticipation to see if Scolari could manufacture success through a flair and invention on the pitch conspicuous by its absence during Mourinho's tenure.
Expectancy burned as fiercely as hope. The Brazilian, who had carved out a reputation for attacking football working with delightful talents such as Ronaldinho, Rivaldo, Ronaldo, Cafu, Cristiano Ronaldo, Deco, Luis Figo and Sim�o, was charged with replicating that exuberance in west London.
A demanding club owner who had ruthlessly dispensed with Claudio Ranieri, Avram Grant and Mourinho, did not want Scolari to merely reap success. He wanted him to do it with style and an excitement which would grip Chelsea supporters and enthral the wider football public.
It quickly became clear that Scolari was not only detailed to repeat Mourinho's success but go one better. He had to achieve the footballing utopia of every club owner and fan; winning matches and trophies with a combination of resolve and entertainment.
Establishing an offensive fluidity in the traditions of the Selec�o, many perhaps predicted, would be second nature to a coach who was deemed to have attractive football flowing through his veins but balancing that with defensive resilience was never going to be anything else other than arduous.
Discipline typified Mourinho's reign and is synonymous with Chelsea's most recent successes yet Scolari, who was to be denied the financial muscle in the transfer market enjoyed by the previous managerial incumbent, always faced an uphill struggle to generate bums-on-seats-inducing football.
Scolari's introduction of attacking wing backs, in tribute to his time as coach of Brazil and Portugal, was inspired initially and was seen as the precursor to a collective attacking thrust which would rip teams to shreds. And it did to begin with.
Yet when opponents countered that approach by blocking off the wide areas, especially at Stamford Bridge, everyone looked to Scolari to compensate for that by mustering invention and pace in other areas. Instead, he floundered.
He was expected to impinge his own ideas on the team but struggled to depart from the 4-2-3-1 configuration which was cultivated under Mourinho's tutorship and the eventual switch to a conventional 4-4-2 six months in did not bring sufficient improvement. As it transpired, it came too late.
There was an inherent stubbornness or fearfulness, or both, on Scolari's part in refusing to alter the team's structure when things went awry.
A reluctance to play with two forwards often saw Anelka as the lone front man supported by two from Michael Ballack, Deco and Frank Lampard and when the Frenchman and Didier Drogba were available to start together, Scolari preferred to pitch Anelka on the wing.
The realisation that the pressures of club football would be severer and more frequent than those he had encountered with Brazil and Portugal rapidly sunk in, even for a man who supposedly came into the job apparently oblivious to scrutiny.
Dissention grew among the squad, who thought the manager's training sessions lacked intensity and left them ring-rusty in matches, prompting Lampard and John Terry to confront Scolari with their concerns.
There were even tales of Scolari regularly turning up late for training, though that has not been substantiated. Nonetheless, the turmoil which gradually grew inside him was apparent. His calm exterior melted away and exposed a burning infuriation, principally with referees.
In mitigation he never had the resources to shape the squad how he desired, even though he might have signed Robinho. Scolari had to generate momentum with players he did not see as part of his long-term philosophy whilst struggling to adapt to the everyday rigours of domestic top flight football.
More than anything else, Scolari, sacked for only the second time in his career after seven months, never had the time to transform Chelsea into champions once again. Instead he, like others before him, became a victim of English football's terminal but very modern disease; impatience.
At Stamford Bridge that affliction increases the likelihood that Mourinho's eminence will continue to overshadow managers there in seasons to come.