Luiz Felipe Scolari: “Coach Athletic Bilbao? Why not...”
The World Cup-winning former Brazil and Portugal coach, whose last job was at Guangzhou Evergrande, has put himself forward to take over at San Mamés.
Luiz Felipe Scolari sat down with AS for a chat about his career, his spell in China and his availability to take on the Athletic Bilbao job.
What do you know about Athletic’s philosophy and the fact they only sign Basque players?
That’s the culture of Athletic and if it’s their culture it should be respected. What the club has achieved over the years with that tradition is exceptional because they have never been relegated. They have always maintained their Primera status and always with the possibility of winning trophies with this philosophy. It should be continued as it is.
Marcelo Bielsa, who you know very well, coached Athletic. What did he tell you about the club?
We have played against each other many times and talked on many occasions. I know Bielsa very well and also [Jupp] Heynckes, who also coached Athletic. They are coaches with different characteristics who both worked in Spain and both did well. I have a good relationship with them both and they have always spoken very well of Athletic, and of Bilbao.
After your time in China, you are currently without a club. Do you see yourself coaching Athletic in the near future?
Why not? It’s a beautiful city, the club competes at the highest level with their philosophy and any coach who is at Athletic has to be committed to that philosophy, look for ways to maintain it and as a coach I have always been very committed to every club I have worked at. I would have no problem coaching Athletic, it would be a great honour for me and a something different.
On Cristiano Ronaldo: "He can't do what Diego Costa does"
What do you think of [Eduardo] Berizzo as a coach?
Argentinean coaches, because of the way they are brought up in the methods of football in their country, always pay a lot of attention to the youth squads in their academies and they are very well regarded.
You coached Cristiano Ronaldo with Portugal. What did you think of his overhead goal in the Champions League?
Cristiano trains for that sort of opportunity; that is one of his great strengths.
Can you see him becoming a number nine at some stage in his career?
No, Cristiano can’t do what Diego Costa does. He can play as one of two strikers but is not a natural lone forward. But he can play at Real Madrid for many years to come.
Do you see Neymar at Real Madrid at some stage?
I don’t know, I’m not the club’s sporting director. But Neymar would fit into any side or any national team, he is one of the best players in the world.
Will Coutinho be a success at Barcelona?
Coutinho has a lot of technical qualities, he can play in various positions and he has a wonderful shot. Barcelona made an excellent signing.
On the World Cup: "Spain can win it, but Brazil are one of the greats"
Are the current Spain side better technically than your Brazil team of 2002?
Spain have shown an excellent concept of how they want to play under [Julen] Lopetegui over the last two years. They’ll get through the group stage without any trouble and then we’ll see. They are on the right path and they have the possibility again of winning the title. The World Cup is a singular competition; you have to be competitive throughout. At an international tournament anything can happen.
Do you think Spain are favourites for the World Cup?
Everybody can label Brazil as favourites, they are one of the best teams in the world. Spain, France, Argentina, Germany… any of them can win it. But Brazil are one of the great international sides.