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Scolari backs Lampard to stay in Chelsea

SoccerNews in English Premier League 8 Jul 2008

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Luiz Felipe Scolari capped a confident public debut in his new role as Chelsea boss by revealing that he expects Frank Lampard to stay at the club.

Scolari was unable to offer the London club's fans similar reassurance about the future of unsettled striker Didier Drogba, but the man who guided Brazil to World Cup glory in 2002 is confident he can hang on to England midfielder Lampard.

Inter Milan have made a formal approach for the 30-year-old, who has only a year left on his current contract and has been considering joining up with former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho at the Italian champions.

Chelsea have insisted they have no intention of selling and, speaking Tuesday at his first press conference since taking up his new job, Scolari said Lampard had assured him he wants to stay.

“I met Frank Lampard yesterday and I spoke to him,” Scolari said. “I like him too much as a player and as a person.

“I asked him if he wants to stay at Chelsea, not only this season but for more time, and he said to me that he wants to stay and play for Chelsea for many years.

“I was at that time very happy because I think Chelsea need Lampard and Lampard likes Chelsea. Now there are some minimal questions to solve and I think Lampard will be with us for more than one year.”

Scolari could not offer evidence of a similar commitment from Drogba, although he insisted the Ivory Coast striker was “200 percent” part of his plans.

“I spoke to him yesterday because he arrived in our base with a little problem in the knee. I saw him happy,” Scolari said.

The Brazilian said he would need more time to assess whether he would have to make changes to the squad he has inherited from Avram Grant, who was dismissed after Chelsea finished second to Manchester United in last season's Premier League and runners-up to them in the Champions League.

But he revealed he has already decided that John Terry will continue as captain.

“I like him as a captain, I like him as a player and as a leader,” Scolari said. “The captain is John Terry, the second captain is Lampard but we want more captains on the pitch.”

In an assured performance in front of dozens of reporters and cameras from all over the world, Scolari said he was relishing the challenge of bringing Chelsea the kind of success they became used to under Mourinho.

Asked if, like Mourinho, he considered himself a “Special One”, Scolari responded with a smile and a “Yes,” before clarifying: “I am special for my friends, my family and my country, not more. As a manager, (I'm) so-so.”

Despite that modest appraisal of his own ability, Scolari insisted he could handle the pressure of satisfying Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich's desire for success combined with spectacle.

Having led Brazil to World Cup glory in 2002 after inheriting the national squad at a time when it was in serious danger of failing to qualify for the finals, Scolari believes he is well qualified for the task ahead.

“If you are the coach in Brazil you know what is pressure,” he said. “When I took over the national team we were in a bad situation but Chelsea is in a very good situation.

“Until now the only pressure I feel is to speak English and that's difficult!”

Abramovich's interference in first team business was behind Mourinho's departure in September of last year, but Scolari insisted he had a “fantastic relationship” with the Russian owner and did not expect any problems working with him.

He did however warn his billionaire boss that he would not necessarily get the flowing, attacking football he craves — a desire which was another source of tension between Abramovich and Mourinho.

“Sure I want both — beautiful football and to win — but sometimes it is impossible,” Scolari admitted.

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