Monday, 9 February 2009

Scolari made Grant's time at Chelsea look good

There's no patience at Stamford Bridge even for a World Cup winning boss. Luiz Felipe Scolari is gone and Chelsea will have their third manager inside a year-and-a-half. But Big Phil was always a riskier appointment than his CV suggested.

Chelsea were intoxicated by Scolari's status. Roman Abramovich was bedazzled by the man who said no to the FA, who put England to the sword in three consecutive tournaments and who won the World Cup.

But for years, he was accustomed only to the comparatively part-time tasks of international management with Brazil and Portugal. Suddenly at a senior age, thrust into the day-to-day stresses of a domestic club in the toughest league in the world, Scolari couldn't handle it.

You can see the toll Chelsea took on Big Phil. On the left, a picture of him with Portugal - and on the right, in the Chelsea cauldron.

He suffered with kidney stones, speaking English like a Mind Your Language student, he got Ray Wilkins to face the media spotlight when it intensified and Chelsea slithered from odds-on title favourites to the ignominy of battling for the final Champions League place.

So who next at the Bridge? And how short-sighted does Jose Mourinho's dismissal as manager look now?

The fact is that only someone like Mourinho will do for Chelsea. Young, thrusting, dynamic, energetic and with medals in his pocket at another top European side.

Perhaps not this time, but Gianfranco Zola of West Ham is a man who must manage Chelsea one day. Already establishing his credentials in double quick time at Upton Park, his master stroke was appointing Steve Clarke as Hammers coach; the only man who has a bigger reputation at Chelsea than the wee Sardinian does.

Clarke is widely acknowledged as the mastermind behind organising Chelsea from back-to-front and many will point to the Blues demise and Hammers ascendancy being exactly measured by his move across town.

As they say in politics, Zola and Clarke are the dream ticket, but perhaps the timing isn't right for either Chelsea or the Hammers duo.

Perhaps Guus Hiddink is the man with the all-round experience to steer the Blue ship, although like Scolari, is he ready for the gear change from international to club football?

It's ironic that Avram Grant could well be on his way back to the Premier League with Portsmouth on the day the Chelsea job became available again.

Also on Soccermongery: Cock-up Charlton had Hodgson in their sights.

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