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Scolari warns Chelsea not to rest on their laurels

SoccerNews in English Premier League 18 Aug 2008

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Luiz Felipe Scolari believes Chelsea will have to improve on their awesome 4-0 demolition of Portsmouth if they are to take the Premier League title away from Manchester United.

Scolari sprinkled stardust on Stamford Bridge in his first Premier League match as goals from Joe Cole, Nicolas Anelka, Frank Lampard and Deco ripped Portsmouth to shreads.

It was the kind of breathtaking display owner Roman Abramovich has long wished for, but Scolari saw enough flaws to make him realise he still has plenty of fine-tuning to do before the club's new 'Blue Brazil' nickname rings true.

The Brazilian knows he can't allow his players to rest on their laurels and was quick to issue a post-match warning after Sunday's win.

“The players put on the field what we did with them in training. We realised more than the other games in pre-season what we need to do,” Scolari said.

“But we'll need more quality in the future if we want to win the Premier League or Champions League. We'll need more than this.”

Scolari, taking charge of a club match for the first time in seven years, employed a fluid five-man midfield that left Portsmouth dazed and confused as Deco, Cole, Lampard and Michael Ballack rampaged forward to support Anelka.

But the former Portugal and Brazil coach insisted it was the players rather than his tactics that made the difference.

“Lampard is not Brazilian. He's English. But he touched the ball very well. It was his style. The same with Ballack. We have a style. It's impossible to say to Deco: 'Foul people.' That's not his style,” Scolari said.

“I only give the players the freedom to play and allow them to express their style. This is a Chelsea performance not a Scolari performance.”

While Chelsea's midfield marauders earned most of the plaudits, Scolari singled out Anelka for praise after the France striker responded to his manager's pre-match attempt to put more fire into his game.

Scolari added: “I'm happy with Anelka. I said to him: 'You will have three or four chances. You need to make one or two goals for me and for the people. I want people to believe in you more than before'.”

Chelsea broke the deadlock in the 12th minute. Deco's flick was chested back by Anelka to Michael Ballack and the German unfurled a sumptuous pass towards Cole, who drove a low shot past David James.

The second goal arrived when Jose Bosingwa completely unhinged Portsmouth's defence with a surging run and cross that Deco scooped back for Anelka to head into the empty net.

Lampard netted the third from the penalty spot in first half stoppage time after Sylvain Distin handled Cole's shot.

Deco capped Scolari's perfect day when he smashed a swerving shot into the top corner in the 89th minute.

After the exhilaration of his debut win, Scolari faces a frustrating week leading up to his second match at Wigan next Sunday as the majority of his players go away on international duty.

“They'll go away for a few days now to the national team. That's frustrating, but this is a FIFA date,” Scolari said.

“We'll have six or seven players at training and start building some ideas for the game against Wigan. We'll hope the others get back in condition and we'll be ready.”

Watching Chelsea completely out-class his side has convinced Portsmouth manager Harry Redknapp that the Premier League's top four are moving further out of reach by the season.

“You're not going to break into the top four. No one is this year. Spurs have got a squad and can't even win at Middlesbrough, so you start forgetting about them. The top four are on another level,” Redknapp said.

“When they play, pass and move, it's very difficult to stay with them. I've had good backing, terrific backing. To bring in Crouch and Defoe, Diarra, I couldn't have asked for more.

“At this stage, it's a case of getting on with what we've got. We'll do better than that, for sure. We've got an easy game next Monday against Manchester United!”

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