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Chelsea´s Scolari rebuffs Fergie mind games

SoccerNews in English Premier League 24 Jul 2008


Luiz Felipe Scolari refused to be drawn into a war of words with Manchester United's Alex Ferguson over the age of his squad, but insisted Chelsea's experience could win them the Premiership.

Scolari sidestepped Ferguson's verbal salvo after seeing both youngsters and veterans star in the 4-0 win over Guangzhou Pharmaceutical, his first match in charge.

“I don't answer this question,” he said. “Sorry, but this is not a question for me.”

But Scolari said Chelsea had both youth and experience with Michael Ballack, Frank Lampard and Deco lining up alongside John Mikel Obi and Salomon Kalou.

“I think that I have players with experience and I have some young boys in my team,” he said.

“But you know with my team that we have enough experience for the Premier League.”

The straight-talking coach was expected to come out swinging after Ferguson kicked off the pre-season mind games by suggesting there was little room for improvement in the Chelsea squad.

“It's hard to see where there's going to be a big improvement with a team that's really very experienced,” Ferguson said.

But Scolari, who came up through the ranks of South American football before winning the World Cup with Brazil, swatted aside the salvo and calmly suggested he was under no more pressure than any other coach.

The 59-year-old is Chelsea's third manager in the past year after Avram Grant was axed despite reaching the club's first Champions League final.

Jose Mourinho, who assembled much of the current team, left under a cloud last September after delivering six trophies in three years and remaining unbeaten in home league matches.

“I have the same pressure that any other coach has in the world — it's normal,” Scolari said.

“For me it's no different than the other teams I have coached, the clubs and national teams.”

Lampard netted a spectacular lob and Argentine teen Franco Di Santo scored on his debut as the Scolari era got off to the perfect start in front of 30,000 fans here.

Kalou pounced in the first half and Shaun Wright-Phillips was on target late on to complete a rousing win.

New signing Deco lasted just over an hour but there was concern for fellow Portuguese Jose Bosingwa, who went off with a thigh problem after 20 minutes.

“It's always good to win the first match, even if it doesn't matter very much,” Scolari said.

“The team was relaxed, we had some problems physically but nothing we can't sort out.”

Chelsea play in Macau on Saturday before heading to Malaysia and then to Russia for the Railways Cup tournament.


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