Scolari defends Asian tour
Chelsea coach Luiz Felipe Scolari has defended the club's Asian tour after reports emerged of backroom unrest among players unhappy with the rigorous pre-season trip.
The newly installed coach said the three-stop Asian swing, followed by a four-team tournament in Russia, was vital as he builds towards Chelsea's August 17 league opener.
Chelsea strolled to a 7-0 win against hopelessly outclassed Chengdu Blades late on Saturday after thrashing Guangzhou Pharmaceutical in mid-week. They play in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday and then head to Moscow for the Railways Cup.
"This is match training for us," Scolari said.
"I'm building my team for the Russia games and after Russia I will have my team for the first match against Portsmouth."
Scolari was speaking after British media reported several senior players were angry at touring the sweltering and far-flung Asian venues just weeks before the new season.
The two-week tour represented "the worst possible preparations for the season," a source told The Sun.
"Some players have been unable to sleep and don't know if they are coming or going," the source added.
Winger Joe Cole, who struck twice in the rout of Chengdu Blades, admitted the team found conditions difficult but said they owed such trips to their fans.
"It's hot and it's humid but I think for professional players at a club like Chelsea, it's our responsibility to come out and play," Cole said.
"These fans pay a lot of money to come out and buy our shirts and give great support. It's our opportunity to come out and play football and give something back."
Chelsea have been good value with 11 goals in two matches -- albeit in front of half-empty stadiums. On Saturday, Cole scored with his first touch and added another with an outrageous inside-heel flick as the team ran riot.
"These trips are very important in two senses to get fitness and to get out and spread the word to fans on the other side of the world," Cole said.
He added that he was happy to compete for his place after another assured performance by newcomer Deco, whose dragbacks and passing tied Chengdu in knots.
"He's going to be an outstanding player for us I'm sure," Cole said.
"There's a lot of competition for places at Chelsea -- there's four or five wingers and three or four strikers. Competition for places pushes you on."
Meanwhile Scolari claimed ignorance that Shaun Wright-Phillips, whose fluke goal rewarded an outstanding performance, had been strongly linked with Portsmouth.
"I haven't asked him about if he wants to go to another team or not," Scolari said.
"He's here with the team and playing for Chelsea. I don't know the news about him changing team.
"It's the first time I hear that Wright-Phillips might want to change. After this press conference I will ask Shaun if he wants to change or not but I don't know."