New coach, Real truth

KEITH BRADFORD -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:18 AM ET

When you've won the Brazilian championship five times with four different clubs, there's bound to be speculation about your future.

And given the current fashion for coaches with egos as big as stadiums (Chelsea's Jose "there's God, then there's me'' Mourinho springs to mind), Wanderley "I'm a star'' Luxemburgo knew it was only a matter of time before Europe came calling.

But while we all waited for the likes of Admira Wacker Modling, FC Agro and Accrington Stanley to beat a path to his door, Real Madrid beat them all to it.

Minus the usual fanfare, it was confirmed that a man known for using a fake birth certificate during his playing career - which allowed him to play for the Brazil under-20 side at the age of 22 - was the new coach of the Spanish giants.

Huh?

Some of the more suspicious soccer minds among us have speculated that poor old Wanderley (or Vanderlei, depending on the translation) was only recruited because he was the coach and mentor of Madrid's latest transfer target, Brazilian sensation Robinho.

Get Wanderley and you get Robinho. Kind of like buy one, get one free. Give or take about $30 million.

But if you look a little closer at Wanderley's resume, it's easy to see why this is a match made in heaven.

Given the problems Madrid's coaches have had keeping their stars in line (or was it the other way around?), Wanderley's unique approach to criticism should come in handy.

When he quit Santos for arch-rivals Corinthians in 1997, he was pelted with coins by angry fans.

"It was a demonstration of how much the fans liked me,'' he said at the Madrid press conference. "They were hostile to me, but they did it with affection.''

ANOTHER COUP

Which means that when striker Raul mounts yet another coup after being dropped, Wanderley will be able to say "The president told me to play Raul or be fired - but he did it with affection.''

Wanderley's scandal-plagued financial history has also been the subject of much conjecture, but it won't worry a club like Madrid, which is all too familiar with financial disasters.

When his torrid reign as Brazil's national coach came to an abrupt end in 2000, bean-counters started to take an interest in Wanderley's bank accounts. More than 20 of them, apparently.

MILLIONS OF DOLLARS

According to the BBC, Brazil's Congressional Commission of Inquiry found that Wanderley's accounts were stuffed with millions of dollars - the origin of which he could not convincingly explain.

Of course, all the speculation about Wanderley's wandering wallet may be a little harsh.

In the last few years Brazilian soccer has been involved in more scandals than David Beckham.

So this is all just a storm in a very expensive teacup.

Speaking of Becks, the heavily tattooed former Manchester United star didn't waste any time giving his new boss an insight into his scheduling "issues.''

At Wanderley's first training session Sunday, the Brazilian coach was informed that a certain English midfielder was experiencing another bout of flight delays - the highly infectious disease known to affect "galacticos'' on their way back from leg-waxing appointments in Milan.

Welcome to Madrid, Wanderley.

You'll fit right in.


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