Back in the day, the Boston Celtics used to get accused of drafting the best available Mormon every year in the college entry draft. The list of evidence supporting that theory is long: Danny Ainge, Fred Roberts, Greg Kite, Michael Smith.
Chelsea Football Club is taking page out of the Celtics book with its managers, grabbing the best available Portuguese-speaking manager. Luis Fillipe Scolari, a Brazilian and current Portugal manager, confirmed he will take over at Stamford Bridge starting July 1. Can't knock the Blues, it certainly worked with Jose Mourinho.
Scolari certainly has the credentials; a World Cup title in 2002 and quite possibly the Euro 2008 title as well. Unlike Mourinho, however, he will have to go from managing a national team to the club level--and do so at the highest club level in the world. Expectations will be enormous, coming off the Champions League final and being one game shy of winning the Premiership.
There are a lot of parallels between Mourinho, the new Inter coach, and Scolari. Both are strong personalities, very purposeful, and unlikely to tolerate much interference from above. Chelsea was apparently already able to squeeze Big Phil a little bit. Chelsea wanted Scolari to announced the deal prior to the start of Euro, reports A Bola, but Scolari balked and eventually capitulated that he'd do so if Portugal reached the quarterfinals, which it did yesterday.
In the end, Scolari is a great successor to Mourinho, unlike Avram Grant. His resume lifts Chelsea into the world's elite again, and the English papers are surmising Scolari's hiring is an admission of guilt from Chelsea owner Roman Ambramovich.
Interestingly, his first foe may be Mourinho. Will the former manager poach the Chelsea players he led to six trophies during his stay in London? How awesome will the tug-of-war be over Lampard, Drogba, Carvalho and others? Luckily for Scolari, his new owner has deep pockets. and luckily for his new owner, Scolari has already tacitly been on the job; remember all the jabs at Cristiano Ronaldo, and the subtle hints that the Manchester United superstar should indeed explore his options at Real Madrid. Very slick Big Phil.
The blogs are rampant with Scolari news:
101 Great Goals has a great recap of the view from the English papers.
SidelineSoccer wonders whether Scolari has the chops to manage a world-class club.
The Telegraph blog compares Mourinho and Scolari and figures Big Phil can handle the heat.
Blue Champions, a Chelsea fan blog, covers what's good and not so good about Scolari.
Soccerlens wonders if Scolari can take Chelsea farther than Avram Grant.
The Shed End is relieved the manager search is over.
CaughtOffside wants to hear from Chelsea fans on the Scolari hiring--six words only.