Saturday, November 22, 2008

Chelsea will need record 97 points to win league title, says Luiz Felipe Scolari

Chelsea only head Liverpool on goal difference despite having dropped just seven points from the opening 13 games of the season.

And manager Scolari believes it will take a record-breaking campaign to guarantee Chelsea their third title in five years in his debut season in charge.

The Brazilian, who spoke glowingly of the harmony inside his squad, said: "We know that if we want to win the Premier League, we need to win 85 per cent of the points on offer.

"We have a focus for the Premier League games. Three points is important for every game. But we have a good balance and the players know this.

"After the games we lost, we showed the players why we lost and they tried to change that for the next game. In each case, in the next game we have played well."

Scolari's 85 per cent target equates to 97 points over the season, two more than Jose Mourinho's Blues side accrued to set the current record mark and take their first title in 2005. After Manchester United's 2-1 defeat at Arsenal, which has left them languishing eight points behind Chelsea and Liverpool, United manager Sir Alex Ferguson said: "We have got to get above 85 points to have a chance of winning the league, so we must keep going for it."

Chelsea are behind the schedule set for them by Scolari, although back-to-back wins over Newcastle today and Bolton next week would take them within a fraction of the target figure.

Scolari added: "I need to look at the schedule again. After we have played Newcastle and Bolton I will have a better idea about the points we have and what we wanted to have. I will tell you then."

The Brazilian, however, was far more emphatic about the value of a squad willing to exchange views and opinions without it descending into damaging acrimony.

And while he pointedly insisted he was not referring to Arsenal, Arsene Wenger or William Gallas, the contrast between the sweetness and light he described at Stamford Bridge and the apparent civil war across the capital could not have been more evident.

Scolari, set to have Frank Lampard, Joe Cole, Ashley Cole and Petr Cech all back this afternoon, added: "Having a good atmosphere in the squad is 50 per cent, minimum, of what you need to win a game, because if that atmosphere is not good, you start the game in a bad situation.

"It is something the players create between themselves and with me and my staff. But once it is there it is easy." Scolari insisted that, for all his image as a hardliner, he actually encourages argument between his players - but only when it is for constructive purposes, and on the condition that nothing is allowed to fester.

"I want the players to speak their minds, to talk between themselves and me, even if it's negative," he added.

"We need to look and talk and think about what has happened, before games, even at half-time. But after they have spoken, it is my time.

"Bad results can create problems.

But what is important is that you've involved the players so they understand one bad result doesn't change our focus.

"In that time what you have to say i s: 'Remember, remember, remember; OK, go'. I'm the man who needs to decide what happens."

Scolari said he had been in such situations many, many times, but that he was happy for players to speak their minds as long as they did not breach his code of respect for the structure of the club.

"Sometimes you give the players the chance to say something and they go too far," he explained. "Then we need to say: 'Look, the position is this'.

"I am a coach, and at times I am a friend or a father too, because I am older than them and have had more experiences.

"But when I am a coach, I need to be able bring a player into my office and tell him the way we have to follow and if it is required, to say: 'You are wrong; out'. My job is to solve the problem and finish it."

2007-08: MAN UTD 87PTS
2006-07: MAN UTD 89PTS
2005-06: CHELSEA 91PTS
2004-05: CHELSEA 95PTS
2003-04: ARSENAL 90PTS
2002-03: MAN UTD 83PTS
2001-02: ARSENAL 87PTS
2000-01: MAN UTD 80PTS
1999-00: MAN UTD 91PTS
1998-99: MAN UTD 79PTS
1997-98: ARSENAL 78PTS

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