K E I R R A D N E D G E f r o m S A O P A U L O
** If Luiz Felipe Scolari falls flat on his face after being confirmed for a second stint in charge of Brazil then CBF president Jose Maria Marin and the country’s fans and media may throw the blame squarely at FIFA and its own president, Sepp Blatter.
Scolari’s appointment has been rushed through precisely because FIFA recoiled in horror at the idea of the Brazilian cartolas turning up for the Confederations Cup draw here on Saturday with a very notable gap in their delegation.
When Marin, against the advice of national teams coordinator Andres Sanches, sacked Mano Menezes last week the Brazilian football confederation had insisted it was in no hurry to appoint a successor. After all, Brazil were not due to play again until the prestige Wembley friendly in February with which England will launch the Football Association’s 150th anniversary.
‘Big Phil,’ out of work since being sacked in the summer by Palmeiras but, significantly, a part-time consultant since then to Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo, was not the only candidate.
Also in the frame were Corinthians’ Tite and Santos’ Muricy Ramalho while the widely-followed sports paper Lance launched a powerful campaign in favour of an approach to Pep Guardiola; Lance suggested that, though he would be Brazil’s first foreign coach, he encouraged in a style of football most in tune with the country’s traditions.
Then, suddenly, sources close to Marin hinted that an appointment was imminent which meant Scolari was the man since both his domestic rivals would need negotiating out of their club contracts.
As for Guardiola, even Chelsea’s mega-rich owner Roman Abramovich has had to accept that the Catalan will not consider where, when and how he will return to football until the spring.
Scolari was presented formally to the media in Brazil this morning along with new co-ordinator in Carlos Alberto Parreira. They make a powerful duo. Scolari was Brazil’s World Cup-winning manager in 2002, Parreira in 1994.
But the impetus to rush through the appointment came not from within the CBF or even Marin’s close circle of advisers, which include vice-president FIFA exco member Marco Polo Del Nero, but from FIFA itself.
Blatter and secretary-general Jerome Valcke – after all the image-scarring chaos and confusion which has clouded Brazil’s World Cup preparations – would not countenance the Confederations Cup host staging the draw on Saturday . . . in such a muddled state that they could not even parade a manager for their football team.
This was verging on laughing stock status and would have been certain to reignite all the negative publicity surrounded Brazil 2014 which Valcke, despite his own scarcely-concealed concerns, has sought to reverse.
Blatter explains it all
Everything fell into place when Blatter was asked here this morning about the importance of Brazil having a new manager in place for Saturday’s show.
He said: “If you have a national team then you must have a national coach. At the moment when the national coach of the Brazilian team is not any longer in his post then the national association must immediately nominate another national team manager – because you cannot have a national team without a national coach.
“You cannot have the national team in no man’s land and that’s why it was absolutely necessary for the leadership of the CBF and Mr Marin to take steps to make this nomination immediately.
“This is a must, in fact, more than a must, because Brazil is preparing not only for the  World Cup but for the  Confederations Cup. To have here, in two days’ time, the coaches of the other seven teams but Brazil would not have had [a coach]? No, this is not possible.
“So I’m very happy with the decision taken by the CBF and to have taken it immediately to have a bench now with two great names. I wish them great success.”
If Scolari and Parreira are not successful – and that means nothing more nor less than winning the World Cup for a record-extending sixth time in 2014 – then Blatter and FIFA will be blamed for rushing the CBF into a decision over which Marin wished to take his time.
Either way, Marin himself is a winner.
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