Big Phil lines up another huge pay-off
The world's best-paid manager, Scolari is about to lose his £12m-a-year job in Uzbekistan – less than a year after he left Chelsea. Mark Fleming reports on how another grand project went wrong
Friday 02 October 2009
Failure is proving to be a lucrative business for Luiz Felipe Scolari. The Brazilian is facing the sack – and a huge compensation package – for the second time in the space of nine months.
The former Chelsea manager picked up a £7.5m pay-off from Roman Abramovich in February, and then walked in to an even better-paid job at his current club Bunyodkor in Uzbekistan, where he is the highest paid manager in the world on a staggering £12m a year.
But the man known as Big Phil has failed to deliver success in the Asian Champions League, after Bunyodkor were humbled 4-1 in extra time to the South Korean side Pohang Steelers and were eliminated at the quarter-final stage. To make matters worse for Scolari, his team had been 3-1 up from the first leg, and in the second leg on Wednesday his team had gone in at halftime with the score at 0-0.
Scolari, by all accounts, was far too defensive and paid the price with a calamitous second half collapse. The Brazilian insisted afterwards he had got it right, saying: "I felt that we had come in with the best plan and I felt like that strategy would give us victory. We will have to come away and learn from this. It will help us in the future. For now, we must go home and learn from this game."
That is all well and good but the former Brazil and Portugal coach is not being paid £230,000 a week to learn on the job. And Bunyodkor are not a team renowned for patience. When he was appointed in June, Scolari became the club's fifth manager in a year with the sole aim of winning the Asian Champions League to secure a place in the Fifa Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi in December.
They are a club in a hurry. They were only formed in 2005, have already undergone a change of name, but thanks to the generosity of the club's backers, they won the Double last year.
Domestic concerns are no longer an issue. At the end of last season Bunyodkor bought the best players from their main rivals Pakhtor and have so far won all 23 games and are 19 points clear at the top of the table, having scored 79 goals and conceded just nine. Scolari, who led Brazil to the World Cup in 2002, was employed to put Bunyodkor on the world map, and his failure to come even close to doing so may yet cost him his job.
The defeat to the Pohang Steelers marks a new low for the 60-year-old Scolari, who lasted just six months at Chelsea despite getting off to a flying start this time last year. Defeat at home to Liverpool in October precipitated a slide in form that ended with his dismissal in February amid reports of senior players rejecting his management style.
The result also takes the wind out of Bunyodkor's outrageous attempts to become a major force in the game. Scolari is not the only big name seduced by the millions on offer – in a country so poor that 45 per cent of the population live off just £1 a day.
The former Brazilian star Rivaldo is being paid £9.1m a year, even though he's now 37, but he only got the job after Samuel Eto'o turned down their offer of £15.6m for three months' work.
Football fans inside the repressive former Soviet republic say the club is being funded by Gulnara Karimova, the daughter of the country's brutal leader President Karimov. Officially the club is owned by Miradil Djalalov, the head of Zeromax which is the largest private company in Uzbekistan. But it is widely believed that Karimova controls Zeromax, and has bankrolled the ambitious project at Bunyodkor to give her country a sense of pride in the outside world. All of which makes Scolari's failure the more embarrassing.
Scolari's decision to accept the Uzbeki job has been controversial from day one. The country has an appalling record on human rights with reports there are more than 6,000 political and religious prisoners. Many are killed, often after being tortured. In 2002 the British embassy reported that two dissidents had been boiled alive.
Continental drift: Famous managers in Eastern Europe
Luiz Felipe Scolari
After being sacked by Chelsea in February, the former Brazil and Portugal coach was wooed by the unique opportunity to develop Uzbekistani outfit Bunyodkor... that and the £12m a year
Former Tottenham and Real Madrid manager joined CSKA Moscow after the club and former manager Zico parted company (see below).
After leading Valencia to successive Champions League finals and spell at Internazionle, made the surprise move to take charge of Georiga last year.
Former Brazilian midfielder, 56, signed a two-year deal at Greek Champions Olympiakos after being fired by CSKA Moscow last month.
Joined home side Unirea Urziceni in 2006 after eight years in English football. Lifted Liga 1 title last year to qualify for Champions League.
Managing the money: Highest earners
1. Luiz Felipe Scolari (Bunyodkor) £12m per year
2. Jose Mourinho ( Internazionale) £8.3m per year
3. Carlo Ancelotti (Chelsea) £6.5m per year
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