Scolari set for business in Chelsea's quest for best
Luiz Felipe Scolari insists he is ready to put the finishing touches to his restructuring of the Chelsea squad this week. There have been reports of a renewed move for Real Madrid's want-away forward Robinho and suggestions that a world-record deal to bring Milan's Brazilian midfield genius Kaka to Stamford Bridge next season will be struck.
A move away for Shaun Wright-Phillips could also be on the cards before the end of the summer transfer window and Scolari has some important decisions to make in what is likely to be a busy few days.
One of the club's recent acquisitions, Scolari's former Portugal protégé Deco, has already started to make an impact on the Premier League – scoring his second goal in as many matches against Wigan Athletic on Sunday. And with his second victory successfully negotiated – albeit in less handsome fashion than the opening-day rout of Portsmouth – Scolari is ready for the task.
Speaking after Sunday's 1-0 victory Scolari said: "Tomorrow when I am back at the club I will discuss these things. It is important [to be focused] before a game. Last week we only talked about Wigan but tomorrow I will talk about players. Tomorrow when I come into the club I will discuss this or that, who comes, who goes. First we finished the game. Now we get back to London and I start a new week."
Two men who are sure to remain key figures under the former Portugal national coach, regardless of any further additions to the squad, are Deco and the England midfielder Frank Lampard.
But while Scolari was pleased to see his midfield duo's goal tally reach three in two games when the former Barcelona playmaker lashed home a third-minute free-kick, he insists that results are more important than personal milestones.
"If Deco is scoring goals or if Lampard is scoring goals is not important, what is important is if Chelsea win," he said. "Chelsea is more important than us. They are friends and if one scores the other players are happy. I read that Lampard, in the last two or three seasons, has scored 20 goals every year. This season maybe 25, but maybe 15 or 10. Maybe even five. It is not important if Chelsea win."
The manager of Wigan, Steve Bruce, saw his side outgun their illustrious opponents for much of the game but was dismayed at their inability to convert a fine performance into points.
He hailed his side's unflagging industry but bemoaned a lack of finesse from dead-ball situations – a failing that was emphasised by the winning goal.
"When you play the top teams you have to have people ready and willing to do their jobs and run a million miles," said Bruce. "My midfield four ran themselves to a standstill. You have to do that, you have to physically work harder than they do but we just lacked that little bit of quality. The set-piece delivery just wasn't there.
"It was terrible and that is the one disappointment. In pre-season [Daniel] de Ridder, [Jason] Koumas, [Olivier] Kapo have all delivered and our set-pieces are usually good. But here they were appalling and it didn't matter who took them, because they all had a go. You need good dead-ball specialists and we have some good ones but they were a huge disappointment."
Reflecting on Chelsea's match-winner, the Latics manager joked: "Who is that lad by the way? Where has he been playing for the last couple of years? Seriously though, he oozes class and that is why he is at the very highest level. Chelsea had a bad day but there was one bit of brilliance from Deco."