The Third Leader: On the ball

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The Independent Online

Thank goodness. For a moment, it looked as if the Football Association had forgotten that its role in national affairs is not the efficient management of the sport at home and securing international success abroad, but the provision of top-class entertainment.

Indeed, there were genuine fears that, after bringing you the likes of Graham "Do I Not Like That" Taylor, Glenn "I Did Not Say Them Things" Hoddle, Kevin "There'll Be No Siestas In Madrid Tonight" Keegan, Sven, Nancy and Sweet Faria Alam, the FA would choose someone really dull to be the new England manager.

Instead, it seems that the lads from Soho Square have once again done ever so well, settling upon a burly Brazilian who looks like Gene Hackman and already has a highly promising nickname, "Big Phil".

Even the most cursory research on Luiz Felipe Scolari suggests top FA homework. This is a bloke who, apparently, has demanded more fouls from his players, invited the referee to come outside the ground afterwards, screams at the crowd, and,asked to compare Wayne Rooney with Pele, replied: "Well, one's white and the other's black."

And when you further discover that he's on record as saying that Pele knows nothing about football, the FA's brilliance becomes clear: none of the current natives being remotely up to it, they've only been and gone and found the archetypal English manager elsewhere. Why am I not surprised that he is an admirer of the late Brian Clough, "old big head" himself?

Marvellous. And to those who worry Phil might have mellowed recently, I say this: remember when we thought Sven was a bit dreary? Trust them!

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