Scolari charms his way through first Chelsea outing
COBHAM (Reuters) - With his brave, halting English, ready smile and promise to try to keep Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba in London, Luiz Felipe Scolari charmed his way through his first public appearance as Chelsea manager.
The Brazilian coach even echoed his popular predecessor but one, Jose Mourinho, when he talked about being "special".
"Yes I am special for my friends and for my family...but as a manager so-so," Scolari, who won the World Cup with Brazil, joked at a packed news conference on Tuesday.
Such was the circus surrounding Scolari's arrival that the Premier League and Champions League runners-up, who sacked Avram Grant in May, had to move his first news conference to a big hotel near the training ground.
Scolari, who only occasionally needed the help of an interpreter, said he felt no more pressure in the high-profile job under the watchful eye of billionaire owner Roman Abramovich than in previous jobs as Brazil and Portugal manager and at clubs in Brazil and the Middle East.
"If you are a coach in Brazil you know what pressure is," he said. "I think I am prepared."
Scolari, who has a reputation for being quick to anger, famously thumping Serbian player Ivica Dragutinovic last year, fosters a family atmosphere among his players.
"I am a coach that respects my players and I like my players as a family. I give them all they need and I want respect for me, for my staff and for my club," he said.
Scolari, who quit as manager of Portugal following a quarter-final exit last month from the European Championship, denied he had encouraged Manchester United's Portugal winger Cristiano Ronaldo to move to Real Madrid.
"Cristiano Ronaldo would be a great player in any league...I never advised him to change his club," Scolari said. It was Manchester United who scooped both Premier League and Champions League at Chelsea's expense last season.
Scolari has signed one of his Portugal team, playmaker Deco, for Chelsea but said he had no others on the agenda and no idea yet what changes he would make to the team.
"I have been here three days...I don't know now how many changes I need, I need to know the players I need to train...you need to know their characteristics, their qualities," he said.
He was firm however that he would keep England defender John Terry as captain, saying he had voted for both Terry and Drogba in past years for places in the world team of the year.
Ivory Coast striker Drogba, he said, was "200 percent" in his plans for next season as was England midfielder Lampard, both of whom have been linked with moves to Inter Milan, where Mourinho has taken over a coach.
He had talked to Lampard and was confident the Chelsea vice-captain would stay, he said.
Chelsea, who will be leaving later this month on an Asian tour, were out in force to support Scolari at his news conference, with chairman Bruce Buck and chief executive Peter Kenyon looking on but not intervening.
Scolari said he had met Abramovich twice since he agreed to move to London and they had got on well. He glossed over questions about the Russian's possible interference in the squad, saying he was happy to discuss the team. "I have a respect for him, he has respect for me," the Brazilian added.
As for exciting football, the lack of which was mooted as one of the reasons Mourinho and Chelsea parted company, Scolari was pragmatic.
"If it's possible we will try to play beautiful football...but sometimes when you want to win it's not possible," he said.
(Editing by Clare Fallon)
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