Dave Hill: So Big Phil from Brazil said 'no' to England. The boy done good

Scolari sent a clear message: I do not need this grief

Share

Brazilians, eh? They have been showing us how to play football for years, but now one of them has demonstrated just how bonkers you would have to be to run the England team. Luiz Filipe "Big Phil" Scolari, a World Cup winner with his home nation, is the first man ever to turn down the job. "Last night there were 20 reporters outside my house," he said in breaking the news on Friday. "I don't like this pressure so I will definitely not be coach of England.'

There are suggestions that he was insulted by the money on offer, but Scolari has also apparently received threats to his family. Anti-foreigner bile from England fans? It doesn't seem unlikely when The Sun is busy re-releasing the Dad's Army theme, "Who Do You Think You Are Kidding Mr Hitler" (with the name of the German coach substituted for the Führer) complete with wartime air-raid sirens. Whatever his reasons, Scolari sent a clear message: I do not need this grief.

It is, of course, as much of an English tradition as Beefeaters and public-school buggery that the man appointed to lead our team to glory be flayed alive at every opportunity, even before he's had time to foul up properly. Oh, there have been honeymoons, sometimes quite passionate affairs. Remember the greeting for Kevin Keegan, the proper, patriotic Englishman so many craved? Remember that jolly tune in praise of our first foreign incumbent, Sven Goran Eriksson? And yet even with these two it was only ever going to be a matter of how soon and how ugly the divorce proceedings would be between them and their press tormentors, with the public baying and gawping at every revelation and catastrophe. Who can blame Scolari for declining to take the hand of the FA chief executive, Brian Barwick, and trip with him down the aisle of insanity?

So now something - someone - most be reclaimed from the wreckage. As the chorus of complaints about the appointment procedure reaches a crescendo, Barwick must return to his shortlist and invite the most comely reject to give the wonderful, terrible job a go. Whoever gets it will be fourth choice, after Scolari, the Dutchman Gus Hiddink, who went off to Russia instead, and the Arsenal genius Arsene Wenger, who is above such trifling work. Would you take a job if your prospective bosses had spent months publicly courting other people first?

The favourite now is Steve McClaren, Erikssons's deputy, manager of Middlesbrough. On Thursday the unfashionable club he bosses produced a miracle comeback at odds with their, and McClaren's, decidedly colourless image to reach the final of the Uefa Cup. Yesterday, The Sun splashed with the story that McClaren had had an extramarital relationship. The provenance of this story was more instructive than its content. It seems he had the affair while separated from his wife, a minor indiscretion, if it counts as one at all. Little chance then that the love life of Sven's most likely successor will keep us even half as entertained as the Swede's has.

Far more revealing is the possibility that McClaren might have co-operated with The Sun's expose to pre-empt it occurring after takes up the England post. If so, he may be the first man in history to apply for a job by confessing to an affair. The episode suggests three things. One, that McClaren understands, as the still-popular Terry Venables did, that to emerge from the England job only half-scathed you need to have a grasp of politics. Two, that he still wants to do it. And three, as Scolari might say, he must be nuts.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Programme Test Manager

£400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client are currently seekin...

IT Network Manager - Shepherd's Bush, London

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Network Manager - Shepherd's Bush...

Secondary supply teachers needed in Peterborough

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Secondary supply teac...

Modern Foreign Languages Teacher

£100 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Group: Full time German Supply Teacher...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh  

Scottish independence: Forget Yes and No — what about a United Kingdom of Independent States?

Ben Judah
Francois Hollande at the Paris summit on Iraq with ministers from Saudi Arabia and Bahrain on 15 September  

What's going to happen in Syria and Iraq? A guide to the new anti-Isis coalition's global strategy

Jonathan Russell
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week