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7.26.2008

Ballack responds to Ferguson's statement

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The talented Michael Ballack has hit back at Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson's suggestion that Chelsea will be less of a threat in the upcoming season.

Alex Ferguson said that he did not expect to see "outstanding progress coming from a team in their 30s".

But the German player said: "Our team can still improve. If you are 30 or 31 you are not old.

"Claude Makelele was 34 and played well last season. This sort of banter occurs between people during the summer."

Makelele, now 35, switched to French club Paris St Germain on Monday, while Ballack has recently joined up with the Chelsea squad on tour in the Far East after helping Germany reach the final of Euro 2008.

He is looking forward to working with new Blues boss Luiz Felipe Scolari at Stamford Bridge.

"It is different, you know someone for a few moments but now we are together every day and I am looking forward to it," he added.

"in fact, we have only talked for a few minutes since he took over but he is a nice person. He is a successful coach and that is why he is here. He has not spoken to me about his philosophy but we have a good team like last year and we can play a lot of systems."

Michael Ballack also revealed that he would like England midfielder Frank Lampard to remain at the club next season. The 30-year-old former West Ham star has been linked with a move to Inter Milan during the summer transfer window.

"It would be fantastic if he could stay at Chelsea," stated Ballack.

"He is a big player for the club and has done a lot for the club but it is up to him. He knows we are all behind him."

Meanwhile, Chelsea defender Jose Bosingwa is facing three weeks on the sidelines after tearing a thigh muscle on his debut and is poised to miss the Premier League opener against Portsmouth on 17 August.

The 25-year-old, who joined the Blues in a £16.2m move from Porto in May, managed only 20 minutes against Chinese Super League side Guangzhou Pharmaceutical on the Far East tour before suffering the problem.

He was sent for a scan in Macau and it was then decided to send him back to England for treatment.

Blues boss Scolari confirmed: "He is out for two weeks minimum for treatment and he won't be able to play for three weeks.

"At the moment, he is out of the first clash against Portsmouth. I have players who can cover."

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Ballack and Cech invite Lampard to stay at Chelsea

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According to many newspapers in Europe, the talented Frank Lampard is about to move to italian club Inter of Milan.

That's why Micheal Ballack publicly invited Lampard to stay: "He knows that we need him- he said-, it would be great if he stayed here with us. He is a big player and he has done a lot for Chelsea, but it just depends on him".

The same words come out of the Czech goalkeeper's, Peter Cech, mouth: "I hope he will renew his contract, anyway he is certainly playing with us next year".

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Chelsea increases expectations in their Asian tour

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Luiz Felipe Scolari can be proud of his start at Chelsea: with two handsome wins and 11 goals. However, it would be premature to hail the Brazilian’s rebranded team as the great entertainers.

Indeed, such was the poverty of the opposition in Macau yesterday that Chelsea’s players have probably exerted themselves more in kickabouts in their back gardens. The visitors were able to stroll through this game, slicing open their hosts at will. Had they wanted to rack up double figures, they would surely have done so. Total control? Absolutely. But did they showed a total football? I can say they didn't.

In midweek, Luis Felipe Scolari growled at the mere mention of Jose Mourinho, stating that, like the famous Sinatra, he would do it his way and that beautiful football would come second to winning.

But the message from his footballers is that the former Brazil and Portugal manager is advocating a more gung-ho style in training, with two strikers rather than the one that has been the norm, and the club’s deep reservoir of attacking midfielders encouraged to show their creativity in football.

Yet there was more than a hint of Jose Mourinho in the personnel and formation that Scolari selected. It was a strong starting XI for late July and the tactics were a throw-back to Mourinho’s time, three central midfielders and two wingers complementing a single striker, in this case the French Nicolas Anelka.

As hosts, Chengdu Blades could not have been more hospitable. They are owned by Sheffield United but they showed no steel. The Blues scored three in the first half and four in the second, the pick of which was a delightful backheeled flick from substitute Joe Cole, one of two goals for the winger in his first pre-season game. Anelka, Salomon Kalou, Frank Lampard, Argentinian teenager Franco Di Santo and Shaun Wright-Phillips weighed in with goals.

Indeed, there was occasional slickness in Chelsea’s play, Essien typically shining in two different roles, firstly anchoring the midfield and later at right-back, while Deco and Frank Lampard dovetailed effectively in central midfield without getting in one other’s way. On the down side, Deco made a few rash challenges and would surely have been shown a yellow card in a Premier League fixture.

It's interesting to see that Scolari was a relaxed presence on the bench, choosing to stay rooted to his seat for the whole game. He clapped the opening two goals, was undemonstrative for the rest and laughed when the seventh crept in via Wright-Phillips’s shoulder.

Pre-season rides do not come much easier than this but Scolari says it was exactly the type of run-out he wanted and that his lineup for the opening Premier League match against Portsmouth on August 16 will be shaped by the considerably tougher fixtures in Moscow on Friday and Sunday.

“Look, for us, this is match training. If I was at Cobham it would make it the same,” he expressed. “We are here not only to play games but other things and for me it is better because I build my team for the Russian games and after that I have the team for the first game against Portsmouth.”

One footballer the manager knows very well is Deco, who contributed a full 90-minute shift despite his exertions for Portugal in the summer, evidence perhaps that Scolari wants this key cog in the wheel in prime shape for the start of the league season.


Goals: Chelsea: Anelka 15, Kalou 31, Lampard 38, J Cole 55, 82, Di Santo 66, Wright-Phillips 83

CHENGDU BLADES: Lan Yi, Liu Cheng, Demar, Li Mingyi (Ding Qi 55min), Zhu Xiaogang (Xu Chao 62min), Zhang Chaosong (Yang Zezhi h-t), Li Tie (Peng Xingli 78min), Xia Qiqi (Zhou Peng 55min), Zhou Yougen (Jiang Xiaoyu 82min), Shi Jun (Denilson h-t), Wang Song

CHELSEA: Cech (Hilario 60min), Ferreira (Ivanovic h-t), Alex (Carvalho h-t), Terry (J Cole 53min), A Cole (Bridge h-t), Deco, Essien, Lampard (Mikel h-t), Wright-Phillips, Anelka (Di Santo 60min), Kalou (Malouda h-t)

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