By Brian Homewood
LONDON (Reuters) - Luiz Felipe Scolari talked of topless pitch invaders and pulled faces at the interpreter during the news conference which followed the 1-1 draw with Russia but the Brazil coach's obvious charisma was not matched by his team.
Scolari's predecessor Mano Menezes had spent two years attempting to build a team which could play a Barcelona-style possession game with a Brazilian touch.
With Brazilians demanding their team win a sixth world title in style when their country hosts next year's World Cup, Menezes appeared to be making good progress until he was astonishingly fired last November.
Three matches into his second stint in one of the sport's most high-pressure jobs, and still winless, it is already clear that Scolari is heading in a different direction with the emphasis on a solid defence, work-rate and team spirit.
Even when talking about players such as attacking left-back Marcelo, playmaker Kaka and flamboyant forward Neymar, Scolari emphasised the importance of coming back to tackle rather than their creative assets.
"Kaka's performance was what we expected, but the most important thing that I wanted him to do was to come back and mark the Russian number eight, who was dictating the rhythm of the game," said Scolari.
"Marcelo's performance was balanced, he attacked when he had to attack and marked well."
Scolari has used more or less than same recipe wherever he has been and has a proven record of success with Gremio, Palmeiras, Brazil and Portugal.
The basics are all there again with Fernando and Hernanes, two robust, hard-tackling midfielders in front of the back four, and Fred as the physical number nine.
All three of those players already look as if they will be fixed establishments, with former Olympique Lyon striker Fred having scored in all three games under Scolari.
The worry for Brazil is that Scolari's recent results have been less impressive and the recipe is no longer so effective.
He was sacked after only seven months with Chelsea in 2009 and last year quit as coach of Palmeiras when they were in the Brazilian championship relegation zone.
Scolari's team will clearly be well-organised and difficult to beat but there is already a feeling they lack the panache of South American rivals Argentina and a resurgent Colombia.
Despite moments of inspiration from players such as Marcelo, Kaka and Oscar, their attacking play against Russia was disjointed and struggled to prise open the Brazil defence.
Neymar again looked lightweight against European defenders. It was a generally joyless performance, a far cry from Scolari's own jovial personality.
Impatient at having to have his answers translated into English, he pulled faces which suggested exasperation while the interpreter was speaking, then set off on a rambling anecdote after opposite number Fabio Capello said a pitch invader had affected Russia's concentration.
"When I was coach of Portugal, we were playing in Estonia or one of those countries over there, maybe it was Latvia, and a girl came onto the pitch and she didn't have anything up top," Scolari recounted.
"Everyone was looking at her. The score was 0-0 at the time and we won 2-0. Maybe their players were distracted by her, but I certainly was. What can I tell you? She was good-looking."
(Editing by John O'Brien)