There are plenty of things for which you can criticise Luiz Felipe Scolari, most recently of Palmeiras, especially over the last few years as he’s refused (or has been unable) to adapt to modern football practices in tactics or training. But you cannot ignore the sizable trophy cabinet of a man who lead Brazil to our fifth World Cup title back in 2002, and won more trophies than we could care to count on three different continents over a nearly four-decade-long career.
He is the definition of a man-management head coach — simple, conservative tactics, strong personal influence and motivation.
It is therefore rather ironic that it were his latter qualities that got him into trouble back in 2008, when he was appointed Chelsea head coach, as he reflected in a recent interview in the Guardian. Then again, those Chelsea teams were almost as famous for “player power” as for winning.
“Chelsea had some problems with injuries, some problems in the team. I had a form of leadership that clashed with one or two players: Anelka and Drogba.
“Our medical department thought we should let Drogba go and recover [from surgery] in Cannes, in the middle of summer. I thought he should stay in London. I would also like to go to Cannes in the middle of summer. I’d stay there for a month, two months, enjoying myself.
“When he came back, I tried to adapt so that Drogba and Anelka could play together. Anelka was the top scorer in the league. We had a meeting and Anelka said: ‘I only play in one position.’ So, there was a bit of a lack of friendship, of respect, of trying to play together with Drogba. They were both great, but someone had to do something different, to get back to help when we lost the ball. That was when it changed a bit.”
This isn’t the first time Scolari has talked about what may have gone wrong for him at Chelsea, and he’s usually reflected on these events fairly harshly — and understandably so. After all, he was sacked just eights months after his appointment.