Scolari irritated by criticism of Chelsea record
Published 06/12/2008 | 14:11
He has been virtually unflappable since he took the job but yesterday Luiz Felipe Scolari launched a passionate defence of a record as Chelsea manager that has already been blotted by home defeats to Liverpool and Arsenal.
A crucial Premier League game away to Bolton today awaits, with Chelsea's Brazilian coach – speaking before the news of the suspension of Manchester United's Patrice Evra for his part in last season's "Battle of Stamford Bridge" – anxious to remind his critics that he has suffered more than his predecessors from injuries and a lack of funds.
A question that pointed out that Scolari (below) had endured the worst opening run of results to a season of any manager under Roman Abramovich had to be explained twice to the Brazilian, but when he finally understood the concept he could barely conceal his irritation.
In his first 22 games in all competitions, Scolari has won 13, the next worse record is last season when Jose Mourinho and then Avram Grant oversaw 14 wins in the first 22 games.
"I don't think the statistics are right, go and look again," he said. "Go and read the book. Maybe, afterwards, you'll come back to me that you are wrong. And I don't spend money."
That last comment was pertinent. It was, Scolari said, unfair to compare him to other Chelsea managers under Abramovich who have had the benefit of much greater funds and far fewer injuries.
In the summer, Scolari signed Deco (£8m) and Jose Bosingwa (£16.1m, who arrived before Scolari). Since then, however, Scolari has said that he has endured more injuries than he could have expected and now must buy a striker in January.
Ricardo Carvalho, Joe Cole and the long-term injured Michael Essien are all out today with Didier Drogba suspended. Losing Essien had, Scolari said, been like "losing five players".
Asked whether the days of Chelsea outspending the rest of the Premier League were over, Scolari said that the club would have to enable him to buy in January. "I knew [when I joined] that it's a different time now for Chelsea," he said. "But, if I now have more injuries, they understand that I'll need one or two players to replace them. They understand this. But, if things are normal and the players are in good condition, no more injuries, I think it is maximum one player they'll replace because we only need one player more."
The cautious warning from Peter Kenyon, the Chelsea chief executive, that there would be "little or no activity" in January was brushed aside by Scolari who said that a striker was a priority, whatever the injury list come January. He admitted that he was an admirer of Wagner Love, the Brazilian at CSKA Moscow with whom Abramovich has links and may be able to facilitate a loan move.
"For the game against Arsenal, I lost two strikers in [Franco] Di Santo and Didier [Drogba], and I had only [Nicolas] Anelka," he said. "For Bolton I have only Anelka, too. If I had one player more in very good condition, I'd have more options for change. Or options to play two strikers, or something different. Maybe you'll say that when I arrived I sold many players, but 34 players is too many for a coach.
"Wagner Love is a very good player, he played at Palmeiras after I was there. Now he's in Russia playing very well, but I'm not thinking about A, B or C. I have some names. If the situation is normal for me, I'll speak to the board about one player more."
Scolari said that the injuries, and lack of players in certain positions, had meant it was impossible for him to play with two strikers or make any major changes to his team's style. "We lost some games, but we need to lose games with our characteristics, not change them," he said. "When I have the players to change, we'll change."