James Lawton: Big Phil will leave no one in doubt who is in charge

There is one major point to be made in favour of Luiz Felipe Scolari as manager of Chelsea – as there was when he came into the running as England's coach at the fall of Sven Goran Eriksson.

It is that he is not for nothing known as Big Phil.

He is perhaps not the wisest or most self-controlled of football's top echelon coaches – as recently as last September he was eager to punch out a Serbian player after a fractious qualifying game – but the coach of Portugal, and World Cup winner with Brazil, has passed all the tests in the vital matter of controlling a team – and leaving nobody in no doubt who is in charge of all aspects of the operation of a team.

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich and his chief gofer Peter Kenyon have made free with the pride and the dignity of all three managers in the era of the oligarch.

It was Kenyon, if you remember, who advised the first victim, Claudio Ranieri, that it wouldn't be enough to eventually shoulder the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson or Arsène Wenger out of pole position in the Premiership. His team also had to win by scores of 5-0, with at least one of the goals coming ideally, from a distance of around 30 yards.

Hugely entertaining, for anyone who has had any contact at all with Scolari, is a picture of Kenyon, perhaps wearing the medal he so proudly collected in the eyes of a vast audience last month in Moscow, offering the same working instructions to Scolari.

In the end even the Special One, Jose Mourinho, felt the stabbingt knife of humiliation after annexing English football power in his first two years.

And what can we say of the regime of his successor Avram Grant? Only that it could not have been founded in less satisfactory circumstances – or less in sync with the classic running of a successful club. Grant was injected into Mourinho's regime in a way which would not have been countenanced by Ferguson or Wenger for more than the time it takes to say goodbye. When Grant emerged with the prize of Mourinho's office, and proceeded to chase Manchester United to the line in both the Premiership and Champions League, his rewarded was to treated with no more respect than an office boy, a retainer who was required to doff his cap not just to the man who paid his wages but, at times, it seemed, to both the players and the fans.

That kind of situation would be tolerated by Scolari for just as long as it took him to make new arrangements.

This might sound a somewhat peripheral to the effectiveness of Scolari as the new manager of Chelsea but, of course, it is utterly central to his prospects.

He has, you can be sure, made it clear that if he will manage the club in his own way, and with his own reputation in mind, rather than the whims of the executive office. This is how Ferguson started off at Old Trafford, and survived some lean days, and how Wenger has consistently made it clear is the only reason he stays at Arsenal in the face of a hundred options across the football world.

Scolari understands that the strong men win in football and he is perhaps entitled to believe that his credentials in that matter are beyond any critical examination. The most passionate and inflamed football nation in the world, his native Brazil, bayed for his head when he defied their yearnings for the return of the great hero Romario. Scolari said the folk hero simply didn't figure in his plans.

Among the threats and the burning effigies was the threat of a public lynching. Scolari shrugged his shoulders and said he would go his own way. The result was Brazil's first World Cup win in eight years. Whether he has the patience for the day to day operation of a major European Club nearly a decade after he walked away from the domestic Brazilian game is one legitimate question. But while we are finding out that answer, there will not be enquiries about his nerve or his pride. Maybe for the first time in time of Abramovich, Chelsea have a manager who truly walks the walk as well as talks the talk.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own