Lampard Regretting His New Deal?

Scolari turned down the England job a couple of years ago, but on Wednesday night watched as four of the players from his current club turned out for Fabio Capello. He also listened whilst one of those players was treated to a chorus of boos from the home crowd as he was replaced by David Bentley. And whilst it’s hardly an unfamiliar sound for Frank Lampard in an England shirt, it definitely surprised the Chelsea manager who already regards the midfielder as one of his key players.

Having considered the reaction of the Wembley crowd, a shocked Scolari stated “In England? In the national team? I don’t believe it. Lampard always does his best for England just as he does for Chelsea. He comes every day, he is happy, he trains very well. England have very good players and Lampard is one of these.”

Well, of course there are plenty out there who wouldn’t agree with the new Chelsea boss, and not for the first time it would seem, as Scolari suggests when he talks about his own reception whilst manager of Portugal. “I have been booed many times,” he says “when I went to Portugal we lost against Spain 3-0 and they showed me white handkerchiefs. I didn’t know what it was, I thought it was a good thing.” However, on being reliably informed the supporters actually wanted to see him outside, Scolari must’ve soon realised the world of international football is a thankless place to be.

That experience hasn’t made him any less surprised at the treatment of his own player, to whom he then offered his own brand of support. The Chelsea boss says ‘I asked Frank: “Are you sad?” I said: “I know why you’re sad, because you have renewed the contract and you have money. You need to think about how to spend it.’

All very amusing, but in truth, the very fact that Lampard did get the money he seemingly held his own club to ransom over for such a ridiculous length of time will have endeared him to England supporters even less – and I for one can’t see Frank finding that quite so funny.


Arsenal’s Wenger Wants To Fight ‘Super Candidates’

Arsenal kicked off the season with a marginal 1-0 win at the Emirates over new boys West Brom whilst Chelsea put in a pretty storming performance at home, easing themselves into the new campaign with a 4-0 win over Pompey.

Chelsea’s win was apparently watched intently – well, the first half at least – by the Arsenal manager, who although impressed, hinted the scoreline had more to do with Pompey’s performance than ours and suggested he isn’t convinced we’ll maintain the consistency required to challenge Manchester United over the course of a season. Pretty rich coming from someone whose side capitulated way before last season’s run-in, but still.

Wenger says “I watched the first half, and then stopped watching because I felt the game was over. Chelsea were very good, but Portsmouth had a bad day at the office and that can happen to anybody. Before they could even get into the game, it was already over for them. However, Chelsea were impressive – but on one game you cannot assess too much.”

As I’ve already mentioned, despite a really good first half of last season, Arsenal’s push for the title didn’t so much fade in March as collapse in spectacular fashion, with inexperience taking it’s toll once the odd injury crept in. Not that the Gunners should let that bother them now, because the Arsenal boss feels this year’s squad will cope better – as long as everyone’s fit.

The Frenchman suggests “There was not one factor why we fell away last season, it was a conjunction of a few things, like injuries, some bad luck as well as a bit of inexperience and nervousness. We have a short squad, yes, and we cannot afford ten injuries like other teams with big numbers. But I think we have the right number of players who can compete at the top level when everyone is fit.”

However, despite acknowledging his own squad is such that injuries will still pose a problem, you might assume he’d think Chelsea’s strength in depth could be an advantage for Scolari – but you’d assume wrong. Because the fact that we have players like Lampard, Ballack, Deco, Essien, Obi Mikel, Malouda and Joe Cole vying for places, could cause us problems according to the Arsenal manager, who says “Chelsea has an abundance of good players. That can be a strength, because the Champions League and the Premier League is a marathon, but if it doesn’t go well it can also be a weakness. There are so many players in midfield that they will have to sacrifice very good and very experienced players. They can’t all play at once.”

Well, of course we know they can’t all play at once but isn’t that what a squad with strength in depth is meant to be about Mr Wenger? You know, the idea of having quality on the bench as well as the pitch? Or how about that injury thing – doesn’t it help a bit when you don’t start a season saying you only have the ‘right number of players to compete if they’re all fit’?

Anyway, he does at least admit Chelsea will be one of the teams to beat this season, even if he thinks his own side will have the beating of us, and claims “They will be one of the super candidates to fight for the title, but I feel we have enough to fight with them.”

Handbags at the ready then?