STUTTGART, July 9 (Reuters) - Portugal flew home on Sunday after the second-best World Cup in their history still waiting to discover if coach Luiz Felipe Scolari, who has given them a new cutting edge in the last 3-1/2 years, will carry on.
Scolari, who led his native Brazil to their fifth world title in 2002, has helped Portugal cast away their reputation as perennial under-achievers since bringing his unique coaching style to an unsuspecting Europe at the start of 2003.
'Big Phil', who invariably puts on his own private show along the touchline as he rants and gesticulates wildly, has already taken Portugal to the European Championship final as hosts in 2004 and this year's World Cup semi-finals.
Saturday's defeat meant they just failed to emulate the Eusebio-inspired team of 1966, who finished third.
Scolari, who rejected an offer to coach England before the tournament, has said he needs a few days to ponder his future.
The coach said before the third-place game with Germany that money was not his main consideration.
'At this stage in my life I want sun, Bermuda shorts and sand,' said Scolari. 'If I show you the offers I've had in the last three years from clubs and other nationals, then I can say I've lost a lot of money.'
Scolari's reign has not been without controversy, however.
He has left former first-choice goalkeeper Vitor Baia in the cold and instead placed his faith in Ricardo, who became the hero as Portugal beat England on penalties in the quarter-finals of Euro 2004 and the current tournament.
His also courted controversy by fielding Brazilian-born midfielder Deco.
Outside Portugal, many people have criticised his team for gamesmanship and rough play, especially during their stormy second round game with Netherlands when four players - two from each side - were sent off.
Ronaldo took the brunt of the criticism, both for his theatricals and for allegedly encouraging referee Horacio Elizondo to send off England's Wayne Rooney during the quarter-final.
Ronaldo was jeered throughout the 1-0 semi-final defeat by France.
And on Saturday he was also jeered by the largely German crowd in Stuttgart every time he touched the ball, although the reaction did not prevent him from appearing to try at least two more blatant dives against the hosts.
Ronaldo's future with Manchester United is now the subject of intense speculation with Real Madrid hovering in the wings.
The booing could be a foretaste of what can be expected in the new European club season for a player who suddenly seems to have made himself hugely unpopular wherever he plays.