Chelsea fires Scolari as manager

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Luiz Felipe Scolari's fall from World Cup winner to Premier League flop reached its lowest point on Monday when he was fired by Chelsea.

Updated: February 11, 2009 07:32 IST
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Luiz Felipe Scolari's fall from World Cup winner to Premier League flop reached its lowest point on Monday when he was fired by Chelsea.

Unable to find a solution to Chelsea's slide to fourth place and seven points behind Manchester United in the title race, the man who stood at the peak of the game when he led to Brazil to its fifth World Cup title in 2002 was out of a job only seven months after he took over at Stamford Bridge.

"I am thankful for the opportunity to have worked for Chelsea and in English football. It was a very valuable experience," he said. "I am sorry that my time with everyone could not last longer. I wish Chelsea luck in the three competitions it is participating. I want to take the opportunity to inform that I will keep living in London."

While that may suggest Scolari is looking for another job in English football, his time at Chelsea has come to an end.

"Unfortunately, the results and performances of the team appeared to be deteriorating at a key time in the season," Chelsea, owned by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, said in a statement on its Web site.

"In order to maintain a challenge for the trophies we are still competing for we felt the only option was to make the change now."

Only 13 games are left to make up the deficit and United also holds a game in hand. That is another grim statistic for Abramovich and Chelsea's chances of winning the title back from the Red Devils look slim.

The Russian who bought the club in 2003 backed former manager Jose Mourinho with his millions and was rewarded with back-to-back league titles and three domestic cups.

But Abramovich saw Alex Ferguson's team win back the league title two seasons in a row and then beat his team in a penalty shootout in last season's Champions League final. The fact that the game was in Moscow made it even more painful.

With Mourinho and Avram Grant gone, Scolari was the man with the track record to turn that slide around. After an impressive 10 victories in the first 13 league games, however, the team went into an alarming slump, especially in front of its fans at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea lost its proud streak of 86 league games unbeaten at home when it lost 1-0 to Liverpool and soon afterwards also tumbled 2-1 to Arsenal. After Saturday's 0-0 draw with Hull, the Blues have dropped 16 points at home this season.

Although Scolari's players had an amazing streak of 11 away league wins, they lost 3-0 at Manchester United and 2-0 at Liverpool which meant no points from those four games against their biggest rivals in the title race.

Chelsea said it has already started a search for a new manager and hopes to announce a permanent appointment "as soon as possible."

There were reports Monday that Russia coach Guus Hiddink might move to Stamford Bridge as director of football, with Grant returning as coach. Former Chelsea star Gianfranco Zola, now manager of West Ham, was also considered a potential candidate.

Hiddink's agent dismissed the speculation, saying he didn't think his client was ready to leave Russia.

"I think there is no chance of him going to Chelsea because he very much enjoys what he's doing," Cees van Newenhausen told BBC Radio. "I think Roman Abramovich would not make too many friends in Russia if he were to steal a goose away from the national team. I can hardly imagine it."

The pressure had been mounting on Scolari before the Blues were held at home by Hull on Saturday. During that game, some fans chanted "You don't know what you're doing" when Scolari made substitutions, and the team was booed off the field at the end.

A banner in the crowd called for Zola and former player Roberto Di Matteo, now manager of Milton Keynes Dons, to replace Scolari.

Former Chelsea midfielder and manager John Hollins said Scolari, despite his success on the international stage, failed to master club football management in England.

"You can't knock him for what he's done internationally but club football is a different ball game," said Hollins, who managed the club from 1985-88. "I feel he couldn't adapt to the every day thing (of club management). Internationally he's had time to look at a game and pick a team but (Chelsea) is instant."

Hollins said the team lost its way under Scolari after the promising start.

"I've seen five games where things didn't change a great deal, and they couldn't beat the lesser sides," he said. "They were winning home games and had that fabulous unbeaten home record but suddenly they looked an ordinary team."

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