Belfast Telegraph

Villas-Boas excited by challenge

New Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas knows his side will not be the only ones looking to knock Manchester United off the top of the Barclays Premier League - but is ready to meet those "big, big challenges" head on.

Last season proved to be one of the most unpredictable campaigns of recent times, with Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City all threatening a susttained title assault before United ultimately proved the most consistent. Villas-Boas accepts the days of a straight two-horse race for English football's biggest prize look long gone.

"There are so many strong teams," he said. "You see the way Tottenham are playing, the ambitions and the revolution at Manchester City, Arsenal's hunger for success and the way last season slipped away from them for sure Mr Wenger will provoke them to respond in every fixture."

Villas-Boas added: "The way [Manchester] United go about their business. They are not here to play, They are here to be successful. Even Liverpool, with the arrival of [Kenny] Dalglish mid-season, the way he built and revived Liverpool, just missing out on the UEFA Cup spot - big, big challenges lie ahead for us, and that is what we want to face."

Villas-Boas, whose release from his Porto contract was 15million Euros, maintains there will be no arrivals or departures before the squad return for pre-season training next week. Chelsea continue to be linked with a host of players, including Tottenham star Luka Modric, Brazilian youngster Neymar as well as Porto duo Radamel Falcao and Joao Moutinho.

Anderlecht insist their valuation for 18-year-old Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku has yet to be met, while Chelsea are reported to have secured a deal for Gael Etock, the 17-year-old Cameroon youngster who was released by Barcelona and will be loaned out to Sporting Lisbon.

Bankrolled by Russian owner Roman Abramovich, Chelsea certainly have the financial muscle to hit the transfer market. Villas-Boas, though, insists that does not mean they should be reproached.

He said: "Any club does what is expected of them. We are able to move in the market in one way, and Arsenal are able to move in the market in another way. They can move in the market finding amazing youthful talent.

"It is almost like different cultures, ways of being. We just have to respect how people go about their business. I respect what he [Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger] does. If he doesn't respect what we do, there's nothing wrong with that.

"It is just his opinion, it is just two different ways of approaching the market. In the end, it is just about being top of the Premier League in the table when the fixtures finish."


From Belfast Telegraph