Keeping Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba are priorities for the new Chelsea manager Luiz Felipe Scolari.
'I'm so-so Scolari, not that special!'
LONDON // He says he is only a special one to his friends and family, but Luiz Felipe Scolari provided the bullish, buoyant approach that Chelsea fans want from their new man at the helm. There has been a lot of speculation regarding the future of key players at Stamford Bridge, but the former Brazil and Portugal coach is not keen on getting rid of Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba.
The Milan duo of Inter and AC have been linked with the pair, with Inter being rebuffed in an approach for Lampard on Monday. The England midfielder is out of contract next summer, but Scolari wants him to stay as he looks to succeed in his first role at a European club, having only previously managed national teams and in his homeland. "I met Frank Lampard and I spoke to him," he said. "I like him very 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, after 15 minutes, that he wants to stay and he wants to play for Chelsea for many years.
"I was very happy because I think Chelsea needs Lampard, and Lampard likes Chelsea, and now there are minimum questions to solve it. I think Lampard will be with us for more time than one year." Drogba is another he wants to keep, despite the powerful but surly striker claiming he wants to leave. Scolari, who confirmed John Terry will remain as skipper, is hoping he can persuade Drogby to lead the side to success as he added: "100 per cent, 200 per cent [I want to keep him], I like him.
"Last season or two years ago, I voted for one of the best players in the world in Drogba and I think two years ago, three years ago, I chose John Terry. "Now, they are with me I am happy. I spoke to Drogba because he arrived at our base with a little problem in the knee. I spoke to him about what's happened and how much time he needs. I saw him happy." Scolari will be happy too if he can reshape his squad to challenge for all the trophies with Kaka and Andrei Arshavin still on the Chelsea radar. He remained coy on which newcomers may join Deco and Jose Bosingwa, but knows that nothing less than success will be enough for the ambitious and big-spending Blues.
The owner, Roman Abramovich, showed his ruthlessness by sacking Avram Grant, despite finishing runners-up in the Premier League, Champions League and Carling Cup last season. Jose Mourinho, the "Special One", also went despite two league titles and Scolari, 59, is ready for the tough task ahead, even though his pedigree includes a World Cup success with Brazil in 2002, a title which should give him that special status.
"It is a new challenge in my life, a different challenge," he admitted. "I didn't think in my life that I will get this one opportunity that Chelsea have given me in my life now. When I think about this, I think it is time to take this job. "I know the pressure to win every game. We have a pressure and I know how to manage it because in Brazil they eat football, they sleep football- it is all football.
"So because of pressure from my own people I think I am prepared for this and in my mind I feel prepared for this. I am ready for the media and it is not a problem. "Special? Yes. I am special for my friends and family and those people only. Not more and as a manager? So-so! "[For] a long time I have been a player and coach and in that time I have wanted to win and if I lost it was difficult to accept. Maybe in life you need to fight and I don't accept not winning.
"We want to win all the competitions. I think we have the potential to win all competitions. We want the best for Chelsea and the players and fans. I don't know how many championships we will win - one, two, three - but we will try win them all. "We will try to play beautiful football, but sometimes, if you want to win some games, you do not play beautiful. "I have met Roman two times and we have a very good relationship. I have respect for him and vice versa. When we discuss Chelsea and players it is normal."