New coach Luiz Felipe Scolari was upbeat after Chelsea completed the Asian leg of their pre-season tour, saying he had seen enough to convince him he has a side that can win the Premier League.
The Blues bagged 13 goals in their three-game swing through the region without conceding any, culminating with a 2-0 win over a Malaysian XI here on Tuesday with goals from Nicolas Anelka and Ashley Cole.
Most of the squad now have some match practice as they count down to their season opener against Portsmouth on August 17, and “Big Phil” likes what he has seen in the month he has been in charge.
“I have the players for exciting football and I have the players for us to be champions,” said the Brazilian as the side left Wednesday for the Railways Cup, where they will face Lokomotiv Moscow and either Sevilla or Milan.
The World Cup-winning coach said this week he had finalised 75 percent of his starting 11 and now he wants players who underachieved last season to step up, not least France international Florent Malouda whom he claims was “wasted.”
“I need to give more chances to Malouda because last season he didn't play in the same role as he had done at Lyon,” he said.
“I want Malouda the same as he was in Lyon, flying down the wing and getting forward like he did with France with (Franck) Ribery, shooting and scoring goals. He was wasted last season.”
With the pressure on to win silverware, Scolari has said he is targeting an unprecedented four trophies in his first season and he will use the Railways Cup in Russia, where the opposition will be stiffer, to work on his tactics.
“I'm seeing if we should play 4-4-2 or 4-3-3, or which position is best for each player, or whether some players would do better in some games or others,” he said.
“These are practice games (in Asia) but the players are trying their best for Chelsea and also for themselves. After that I'll decide.”
Billionaire owner Roman Abramovich has reportedly demanded more attractive football from Chelsea, who earned a reputation for solid rather than entertaining play under Scolari's predecessors Jose Mourinho and Avram Grant.
In new signing Deco, Scolari appears to have someone who is capable of helping him do that.
“Deco has his style and that style improves other players, so he can make everyone better,” he said, after watching another excellent performance by a playmaker who has previously enjoyed glittering spells at Porto and Barcelona.
His other new signing, defender Jose Bosingwa, will miss the start of the Premier League season after being forced out of the Asian tour with a thigh injury.
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