Scolari 'would be interested' in England job after the World Cup

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The Independent Online

The Portugal manager, Luiz Felipe Scolari, would be interested in succeeding Sven Goran Eriksson as the England coach after this summer's World Cup finals.

The 57-year-old Brazilian, who took over as Portugal's manager having guided Brazil to triumph in the 2002 World Cup, has been linked to the England post, with some reports suggesting that he is the preferred candidate of influential members of the FA, including David Dein, the Arsenal vice-chairman who is on both the FA board and the international committee.

Scolari made his position clear at the weekend, before the FA and Eriksson agreed that the Swede would leave his job in the summer, and remains interested in the job. Scolari says he is "totally committed to Portugal" until the World Cup but he is free after that.

"I want to stay in Europe. My contract runs out in July and after that I can negotiate with other national teams and clubs. I would analyse with interest if I receive an offer to work in England," he said last weekend by telephone from his home in Cascais.

Following his World Cup success in 2002, Scolari arrived in Europe wanting to coach a big team. He was welcomed as a visitor by Dein and Arsène Wenger at Arsenal and was the FA's guest of honour at a World Cup qualifier against Macedonia in October 2002. He was appointed Portugal's coach in January 2003 and guided the hosts to the final of Euro 2004, where they were beaten by Greece.

The Brazilian admits he would have to improve his English to a fluent level to get Eriksson's job. "From the way I take my challenges, after two or three months of intensive work I would be able to give interviews," he said. "I worked with players in Kuwait without any interpreter. I speak enough English [already] to defend myself, as we say."

Language, however, would not be a barrier for a man famous for being a good communicator. If Beckham and Co are not able to grasp his words, they would at least get something from Scolari's body language. He is above all a players' coach, who puts on his tracksuit and goes to the pitch to repeat routines until exhaustion.

Scolari says a Brazilian could bring "joy and simplicity" to the English game, one he admires increasingly. "It has improved a lot in the last few years. The game is more open and better." But he thinks it could be improved further with "a little more enjoyment, and more mobility."

Scolari has frustrated England's progress in the last two major tournaments, eliminating them in the quarters-finals of the World Cup with Brazil and again in the quarter-finals of Euro 2004 with Portugal.

His credentials include not just his winning record but his ability to handle the pressure of international management. In the build-up to 2002, he was brave enough to leave the hugely popular Romario out of the squad - against the wishes of much of football-mad nation, including the former president Fernando Henrique Cardoso, who wanted the then 36-year-old striker in the team.

Instead, Scolari gambled on the recovery of the ailing Ronaldo and the faith in him paid off as the striker finished top scorer in 2002 with eight goals.

During Euro 2004, the Portuguese coach replaced the country's most celebrated player Luis Figo in the crucial quarter-final against England. The substitute Helder Postiga, who had rarely scored in his English spell with Tottenham, came off the bench to get a vital equaliser, which was enough to take Portugal through on penalties.

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