Brazilian Luxemburgo unveiled as flamboyant Real Madrid coach

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The Independent Football

David Beckham is no longer the most clothes-conscious man at Real Madrid. With his hundreds of silk shirts and top-quality suits, the flamboyant Brazilian Wanderley Luxemburgo has arrived to take charge at the Bernabeu. The new coach has a wardrobe that will face few problems adapting to the Madrid winter. Whether he can adapt to the challenges of a major European club is not as obvious, but much more fascinating.

David Beckham is no longer the most clothes-conscious man at Real Madrid. With his hundreds of silk shirts and top-quality suits, the flamboyant Brazilian Wanderley Luxemburgo has arrived to take charge at the Bernabeu. The new coach has a wardrobe that will face few problems adapting to the Madrid winter. Whether he can adapt to the challenges of a major European club is not as obvious, but much more fascinating.

With five league titles, spread around four different clubs, Luxemburgo is a phenomenon of Brazilian football. He has consistently constructed sides which are both attractive and successful. He has worked well with plenty of stars - from the likes of Rivaldo, Edmundo and Roberto Carlos at Palmeiras a decade ago, to latest boy wonder Robinho this year at Santos. It is true that he failed to establish a working relationship with Romario, but he is far from the only coach to find the little striker too hot to handle.

He has an exceptional eye for football, and has the rare gift of consistently being able to change the pattern of the game and improve his side with shrewd substitutions. As a coach, then, his talent is not in doubt. The same cannot be said for the quality of his character.

Luxemburgo, 52, has the humble origins common to most in Brazilian football. But he grew up in a broken home at a time when such things were still rare. His background seems to have left its scars - especially, it seems, by giving him a level of ambition that can take him beyond reasonable limits.

His playing days, as an undistinguished full-back, are most remembered for the fact that he knocked three years off his age and appeared for a Brazil Under-20 side when he was really 22. More recently a Congressional Commission of Inquiry revealed that he had over 20 bank accounts stuffed with millions of dollars, the origin of which he could not convincingly explain.

This month I saw him give a lecture to fellow Brazilian coaches where he yelled that he wanted his opponent to die - a tasteless remark given that two Brazilian players had just dropped dead on the field.

So far in his career this ferocious will to win has been both the making and his undoing. It underpins his success, as he throws mind, body and soul into the quest for victory. But the lack of emotional balance can prove decisive at vital moments. Although he won the Copa America in 1999, his two-year spell in charge of the Brazilian national team was a massive disappointment. He began with overwhelming popular support, which he soon lost. His desperate attempts to impress were unnecessary and counter-productive. He went out of his way to tell people how intelligent he was, and spoke of "Macro-plans" and "a French writer called Goethe". He was, frankly, ridiculous, and was sacked following Brazil's failure in the Olympics.

His will to win was too strong to dwell on failure, and he has bounced back in fine style, winning the Brazilian Championship last year with Cruzeiro and this year with Santos, to add to his two titles with Palmeiras and one with Corinthians.

He claims now to be a calmer, more mature figure. In order to cope with the pressures of Real Madrid he will have to be. The multilingual, multicultural dressing room he inherits will not respond automatically to the motivational techniques that have worked so well at home. He will have to find a new way of handling European players, less authoritarian and paternalistic than the case with Brazilians.

Many back home will be hoping he finds the formula. European clubs may love Brazilian players, but they have long been reluctant to appoint Brazilian coaches. Luxemburgo has the chance to open the floodgates.

'It's a great responsibility, of which I am not afraid'

Real Madrid's fifth coach in 18 months flew into Spain yesterday undaunted by the prospect of taking the reins at the biggest club in the world.

"It's a very great responsibility for me... but I'm not afraid of responsibility," Wanderley Luxemburgo said after being unveiled. The Brazilian, perhaps with his new squad of galacticos in mind, said he believed success in football is built on discipline, unity, work and professionalism.

Club officials said Luxemburgo had signed an 18-month contract and would bring a deputy coach and a physical trainer with him. The decision to appoint Luxemburgo followed a week of reflection and meetings, according to the club's vice-president, Emilio Butragueno.

"It's not been an easy decision for us but... we think it is the best decision right now for Real Madrid," he added. "We are convinced... Wanderley is the best coach to help us to get out of the current situation. We think we needed a change of direction."

The club's president, Florentino Perez, said the club had had a poor end to last season and had suffered a "block", perhaps due to pressure, although things were slowly improving.

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