Scolari offer 'is a betrayal of Englishmen and England fans'

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The Independent Online

David Gold, the Birmingham City chairman, led the chorus of outrage yesterday at the Football Association's decision to offer Luiz Felipe Scolari the job of replacing Sven Goran Eriksson.

Gold, who once claimed "I will kill myself" if Eriksson's successor was another foreigner, said: "If I was voting for a world manager of the year, then I might vote for Mr Scolari, who has a brilliant record. If and when he is England manager, I will also give him 100 per cent backing. But that is not my point. My point is no matter how brilliant a coach someone from abroad may be, it is a betrayal of Englishmen and England fans.

"The majority of the England fans want an English manager, not an overseas manager."

Gary Lineker also questioned the FA's decision. Although Scolari's Brazil side beat England in the World Cup quarter-finals en route to victory in Japan and South Korea in 2002, Lineker believes his job was made easier by the talent at his disposal. "I'm surprised," Lineker said, speaking at the BBC's World Cup launch. "He's got great credentials by winning the World Cup, but he did it with Brazil ­ my granny could probably have managed Brazil to the World Cup."

The Match of the Day anchorman believes the FA should have approached a coach with more European experience. "I thought if they went internationally they would go for someone who had some sort of connection with English football," he said. "If their criteria was 'let's get the best man wherever he comes from', well you just knock [the Arsenal manager Arsène] Wenger's door down until he answers it."

At the launch with Lineker was Leonardo, a World Cup winner with Brazil in 1994. He believes Scolari will be a success. "He only had two years before the 2002 World Cup and came in and started constructing a group," he said. "He knows good players. I think he will do well anywhere. He has a strong personality. He comes from the south of Brazil and therefore is more aggressive and has a more European coaching style."

England's former caretaker manager, Howard Wilkinson, was less impressed. The chairman of the League Managers' Association said: "It sends out the wrong messages from the FA to English coaches and the ramifications will be seen in the years ahead. The decision to go outside these shores will prove to be bad for the development of English coaches."

Birmingham's manager, Steve Bruce, agreed. "If we go along with all these Uefa coaching badges and the pro licence and we are not going to give an Englishman a chance, I find that really disappointing," he said. "You have to ask, would an Englishman get the Brazilian job? How is an Englishman going to get the chance to manage in Europe? They have made a nonsense of the whole thing."

The Blackburn manager, Mark Hughes, was also unconvinced. "Whether he is the best man for the job when he is working with players with a different mentality to those he has worked with before, remains to be seen," he said.

REACTION

David Gold Birmingham Chairman

'No matter how brilliant a coach... it is a betrayal of Englishmen and England fans'

Gary Lineker Ex-England Striker

'My granny could have managed Brazil to World Cup success. I'm slightly baffled'

Mark Hughes Blackburn Manager

'Whether he can work with players with a different mentality remains to be seen'

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