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Orlando City Coaching Search: The Pros and Cons of Luiz Felipe Scolari

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Is ‘Big Phil’ to right person to take over Orlando City? We take a look at the man who is reportedly on the Lions’ wish list.

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The search is on, and without any word from the Orlando City front office on who may or may not be on the short list of possible new coaches, people have been left to speculate wildly. Personally, I am hoping for a Hail Mary and hear that City has somehow been able to woo David Wagner from Huddersfield Town in the English Premier League, but I realize that has about as much chance of happening as Iceland winning the World Cup (#thunderclap, and it could happen).

Over the past 48 hours, the focus seems to be one man: Luiz Felipe “Phil” Scolari. Who is Scolari? Well, before we dive into it any deeper, let us lay out a little bit of his history and résumé for you.

Brazil v Germany: Semi Final - 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images

The chart below details the history of Scolari’s coaching career:

Detailed coaching history
www.transfermarket.co.uk

A very quick breakdown of the important numbers to look for:

  • Seasons (with more than one match being shown played) losing more than 50% of played matches: 1.
  • Winning percentage since roughly 2001, taking data from multiple sources, is over 62%. That is looking at wins only.
  • His worst winning percentage for a season in his recent past is about 56%.

Major Trophies and Accomplishments:

  • World Cup in 2002 with Brazil, where he was criticized for squad selection and entered the tournament with a team that was not expected to do well.
  • Brazilian championship and multiple Brazilian Cup championships.
  • Confederations Cup winner.
  • Most recently, three straight Chinese League championships.

Has he been perfect at every club he has helmed? No, he has not. He managed English Premier League side Chelsea for a brief stint between two seasons, but was released (fired) after a run of poor form during the 2009 season.


Now comes the nitty gritty. What are the pros and cons if this appointment were to happen? On the surface, it seems pretty clear, but when you dig deeper, does the clarity remain?

Pros:

  • As stated above, his résumé is rather impressive, coaching across the globe at multiple levels from club to country.
  • The winning percentages he has posted over his career show he can win. Sure, someone can hand you a team already built for success, but a manager can easily come in, try to inject themselves, and turn a great team sour.
  • It appears that the 4-2-3-1 — or variations of it — is his preferred formation, something that Orlando City is already very familiar with.
  • A coach of this caliber could immediately draw players to Orlando City. It is undeniable that having Big Phil running the squad would hold a ton of weight with possible signings.
  • He won a World Cup.

Cons:

  • Scolari is almost 70 years old. This is a worry for some.
  • Would this be creating too deep of a Brazilian connection and possibly make Orlando City blind to the rest of the world? Pulling talent from across the globe could be key to the club’s success. Concerns are that if a Brazilian owner hires a Brazilian coach, it could create a very narrow focus for the club and the development opportunities.
  • What type of culture will he bring to the locker room? Will it mesh well with the existing players? Is an extremely experienced international coach what the club needs? Will Big Phil understand #Richiecam or using eggplant emojis for Joe Bendik? Can a 69-year-old relate to City’s young players?
  • Why has he been in China for the last few years? The team he took over in China, with whom he won three league titles, had won the previous four. Is he in China because the offer was too great to pass up? Because let’s be honest, the Chinese Super League has thrown some insane contracts around to lure in big names.
  • World Cup 2014, 7-1 loss to Germany while with Brazil. On home soil.

One thing is for sure: We will hear something from CEO Alex Leitão before the match this Saturday evening, and he has already spoken to Jordan Culver at ProSoccerUSA, stating the club wants to announce the name of the new coach next week, although Culver writes that preliminary discussions are ongoing and a final list is still being compiled. What we will find out Saturday is still up in the air but it won’t be the new coach’s name.

Luiz Felipe Scolari would certainly garner a ton of respect walking into the position as the third head coach in Orlando City’s brief MLS history — in fact, the third coach in its history period.

The question that still remains is, is he the right coach? Is he the right person to come in, assess the current personnel, and make the positional and tactical changes necessary to turn City into a playoff-worthy team? It is hard not to recognize his career as something pretty special, but it is also hard not to ignore some glaring questions that need answering.