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Deciphering Luiz Felipe Scolari, Brazilian football’s most decorated and enduring manager

Deciphering Luiz Felipe Scolari, Brazilian football's most decorated and enduring manager

You might have heard of the expression ‘Sarrism’ – a time period to explain the best way that groups managed by Maurizio Sarri, the eccentric Italian coach, play. It’s a “fast-paced, possession-based style of playing football”, as outlined by Treccani, the most well-known Italian encyclopedia, who added the phrase ‘Sarrismo’ as a neologism not way back.

Throughout the Atlantic Ocean, it’s truthful to say that one other soccer coach, a decade older than the Tuscan, additionally deserves to be granted with a phrase to outline his personal type of soccer. Certainly, Luiz Felipe Scolari, the Brazilian coach, carries ‘Scolarismo’ with him. 

The previous Chelsea and Portugal boss was a no-nonsense defender throughout his enjoying profession within the 1970s. As a centre-back for Caxias RS, Scolari was extra recognized by his brute power than for his expertise with the ball. Stories and photographs from the time point out an unforgiving footballer, one who’d later take that into his managerial profession.

This perception, in rugged, to-the-point soccer, carried over instantly in his profession on the opposite aspect of the touchline, which started in 1982 at CSA-AL. Mockingly, in the identical yr, soccer aficionados have been wowed and shocked by the great thing about the Brazil nationwide staff on the World Cup in Spain. It was a yr of contrasts.

Scolari’s early philosophy, which targeted on pragmatic, aggressive soccer, carried him via to his first championship within the 1990s, earmarking him out each for its distinctive perspective in Brazil and for the best way he executed it. Scolari, regardless of which method you checked out him, was unmistakable in his homeland.

Felipão, as he’d turn into recognized, noticed ugly soccer as a way to an finish, with victory the one goal. Within the trendy period, it’s a philosophy that José Mourinho has adopted of late. Criciúma, Grêmio and Palmeiras, the three Brazilian groups managed by Scolari within the 1990s, had three issues in widespread: strong defences, medical assaults, and a group spirit that bordered on the breakable.

This distinctive mix threw up season after season of slender wins – and a exceptional haul of trophies. On his option to turning into the most effective managers outdoors of Europe, Scolari would twice carry the Copa Libertadores – with Gremio in 1995 and Palmeiras in 1999 – in addition to a Brasileiro, two Brazilian Cups and the South American Coach of the Yr award.

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Scolari’s groups performed in a basic Four-Four-2, with out-and-out defenders (Rivarola, Roque Júnior and Júnior Baiano), full-backs that pressed ahead at each alternative (Arce, Júnior and Roger), two constant defensive midfielders (César Sampaio, Dinho), two artistic attacking midfielders (Alex, Carlos Miguel), a goal man (like Mario Jardel, Oséas) and a fast second-striker (Paulo Nunes). The wheel wasn’t reinvented and his groups not often took opponents unexpectedly. It was low defensive blocks, fast transitions and counters – and it labored to perfection.

One other of Scolari’s logos throughout these years was his peculiar behaviour, one thing the world would later witness, internally, with the gamers, and externally, with the press. For him, the altering room is a sacred place and, by means of all those he’s led, he’s strengthened that perception in his gamers. Even at Chelsea, when issues went south, he stored his gamers shut, fostering a unified spirit.

For journalists, nevertheless, Scolari’s insistence on a closed camp led many to painting him as a comedic determine, terrified of leaks and entry to his stars. Certainly, between punch-ups and heated verbal exchanges at press conferences, Scolari’s relationship with the press was all the time strained. Maybe that’s why he’s by no means been given the credit score he absolutely deserves – or at the very least his report deserves. It’s no exaggeration to state that Felipão is one of the best Brazilian coach of the final 25 years.

By 2001, with two Libertadores titles behind him and home glory in his homeland, Scolari was appointed Brazil manager. A yr later, he’d turn out to be immortal.

In Korea and Japan, on the 2002 World Cup, Scolari shifted from his conventional formation to a Three-5-2 and guess all his chips on Rivaldo and Ronaldo – each obtainable after prolonged accidents – and vibrant younger star, Ronaldinho. With numerous different stars like Djalminha, Márcio Amoroso and Giovane Élber omitted from the squad, it was a raffle that paid immense dividends.

The trio scored 15 of the Seleção’s 18 objectives within the event. They complimented a fairly sensible defence, with Lúcio, Edmílson, and Roque Júnior the centre-backs, and Cafu and Roberto Carlos patrollign the flanks.

With a gifted group backed-up by a strong second string, Scolari felt assured sufficient to mould his well-set system, granting his assault extra freedom than ever. The category of 2002 turned generally known as the Família Scolari, consolidating the concept the coach was a father determine to his “family” of gamers, creating an surroundings of loyalty and companionship fondly remembered by his star turns to this present day.

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Maybe the most defining facet of Scolarismo got here to the fore previous to the finals. With the press, and many Brazilian followers, urging the manager to pick the good Romário, Felipão trusted his intuition, leaving the 1994 champion at house, a lot to the chagrin of the media. He took the punches, threw some again, and headed to the Far East with supreme confidence.

The win in 2002 noticed the world study the identify Luiz Felipe Scolari. From Brazil he’d head to the land of Pedro Álvares Cabral, taking cost of the Portugal nationwide staff. A runners-up end at Euro 2004, fourth place on the 2006 World Cup and, most importantly, the return of a nation’s delight of their staff led to his ascension to one of many world’s most in-demand coaches. The journey was, in fact, sometimes Scolari.

Disagreements with the press have been rife from day one, whereas his contempt for Vitor Baía was harking back to his exclusion of Romário. Past that, nevertheless, in creating one other Familia Scolari, the Brazilian would form a younger Cristiano Ronaldo and construct a group that was at occasions higher than the sum of its elements. It was basic Scolari.

Together with his work in Portugal full, in 2008 Scolari was invited to attempt his hand for the primary time at a serious European membership energy, lured to London on the private request of Roman Abramovich. His mission was to make Chelsea champions of Europe for the primary time and justify his Russian boss’s appreciable spending. It was robust however certainly not unattainable, given the variety of world-class stars within the squad.

From day one, nevertheless, a frosty relationship with the media – who as soon as championed for his arrival – noticed Scolari on the again foot, his blunt, at occasions harsh, nature an excessive amount of, it appeared, for some to deal with. However that was all a part of Scolarismo – it was all the time ‘us against them’.

Used to controlling massive personalities, robust love at worldwide degree was OK in small doses, however when seeing the gamers every single day, it resulted in numerous clashes, most notably with Michael Ballack, Nicolas Anelka and Didier Drogba. Within the Ivorian’s case, Felipão had tried to orchestrate a swap cope with Adriano of Inter, however when the deal broke down, the much-loved Blues star took it personally.

Ballack’s points would come up when he was relegated to the bench in favour of latest addition Deco, who instantly shone within the Blues’ line-up. Whereas criticised by many on the time, in hindsight, it was a sensible choice, with Ballack’s tiring legs and demanding nature by no means more likely to win a lot credit score with the Brazilian.

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Anelka’s points have been typical to the person. Requested to play off the left, he refused. The outcome? A drop to the bench. Self-discipline mattered to Scolari; it had taken him to main titles at membership and worldwide degree.

Together with his English poor and miscommunication rife, to not point out a practical fashion that didn’t endear him to the Stamford Bridge trustworthy, Scolari was sacked after seven months, one among a lot of failed managerial selections within the Abramovich period.

Sadly, his firing from Chelsea noticed Scolari’s picture take a beating in Europe that he’s by no means recovered from. With huge golf equipment cautious of his authoritarian strategies, and others not sure of the soccer his groups would play, Scolari’s Eurotrip was over.

In a shock transfer, Scolari would subsequent head to Uzbekistan the place, because the coach of Bunyodkor, Felipão turned the highest-paid manager on the planet in 2009, with a wage of €16.6m, greater than José Mourinho at Inter and Fabio Capello with England.

Together with his pockets crammed, Felipão headed again to Brazil to his much-loved Palmeiras, the São Paulo giants he took to the Copa Libertadores in 1999. You realize the formulation by now: arguments with the press and minimalist soccer on the pitch. The outcome: one other Copa do Brasil with the Verdão in 2012.

Later that yr he’d return to the Brazil fold within the hope of main a gifted however uninspiring set of gamers to glory of their residence World Cup, with Neymar, Oscar, Willian, Luiz Gustavo, Thiago Silva, Dani Alves and Marcelo all anticipated to shine in entrance of their delirious followers. If 2002 was glory that they Brazil followers dreamt of, 2014 was one they demanded.

Very similar to a decade earlier, the Família Scolari was shortly shaped. Issues began properly, lifting the 2013 Confederations Cup towards Spain, nonetheless thought-about the premier drive in world soccer. Felipão was even capable of purchase the belief of the press, with an unusual ceasefire with journalists setting a extra pleasant tone – briefly a minimum of.

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July eight, 2014, would change all of that, although. A 7-1 defeat to Germany – a nationwide humiliation – later, Scolari was booted off his throne, his strategies deemed backwards, regressive and towards the essence of Brazilian soccer. How shortly his earlier endeavour have been forgotten. It was Europe once more.

With a scarcity of alternatives in South America, Felipão determined to go away Brazil once more, chasing hefty pay-packets and new challenges. Touchdown in China because the coach of Guangzhou Evergrande, Scolari bagged seven titles in two years, together with the AFC Champions League in 2015 and three Tremendous League titles in as a few years between 2015 and 2017. With some Brazilians within the workforce and no challenge with the Chinese language press, Scolari loved relative peace for the primary time.

Time handed, Brazil failed at one other World Cup (no blame on Scolari this time), and a well-known identify got here calling – Palmeiras. Seventh in 2018 Brasileirão after a number of high-profile and costly signings did not shine, the membership took their most secure attainable guess by bringing Scolari again in from the chilly.

When Scolari arrived, Palmeiras had 23 factors, eight in need of the leaders, Flamengo. 4 months and 22 video games later, the Verdão have been topped champions, with 80 factors, eight forward of their nearest challengers. The title reinstated Scolari again to his throne as Brazil’s greatest manager – a supreme chief, a canny tactician and a passionate lover of the game.

Some journalists might say that his techniques and type of teaching are a detriment to the event of soccer, particularly in a nation like Brazil that has typically appeared to ojogo bonito for nationwide delight. That does him a disservice. Past the significance of profitable tropies – in actuality, nothing is extra necessary in soccer, and no one is as decorated in Brazilian historical past – Felipão’s newest spell at Palmeiras proves that his strategies are timeless. Scolari was a winner in 1982 when he started his journey. Thirty-seven years later, he’s nonetheless profitable.

So what’s his secret? Should you don’t know by now, you haven’t been paying consideration. All of it boils right down to a great defence, a minimalist system, a squad that looks like a household, and a “us versus them” nature. Begin right here and the remaining will fall into place. That’s pure Scolarismo.

By Fábio Felice @felicefabio