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.

News
scienceExcitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
Life and Style
Customers can get their caffeine fix on the move
food + drink
Sport
sport
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
News
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Voices
Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US
voicesRobert Fisk: Barack Obama is following the jihadists’ script
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Arts and Entertainment
Loaded weapon: drugs have surprise side effects for Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy’
filmReview: Lucy, Luc Besson's complex thriller
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T plays live in 2007 before going on hiatus from 2010
arts + entsSinger-songwriter will perform on the Festival Republic Stage
Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
News
Jermain Defoe got loads of custard
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape