My Soccer World

English Premier League: Scolari Seeks Jose’s Path To Glory

Posted on: November 12, 2008

LONDON: The League Cup did not feature highly on Luiz Felipe Scolari’s list of targets when he arrived at Chelsea in July, but nobody in west London has a sniffy attitude to silverware, whatever form it comes in.

The least beloved of England’s domestic tournaments did, after all, provide a kick-start to Jose Mourinho’s hugely successful tenure at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea beating Liverpool 4-2 in a thrilling 2005 final.

Mourinho delivered it a second time in 2007 with victory over Arsenal, while Chelsea’s defeat to Tottenham in last year’s showpiece at Wembley Stadium spelt the beginning of the end for Avram Grant.

For all the sneers from pundits and punters alike, this is a trophy which matters — at least in the latter stages — so there should be no reason for complacency when Championship side Burnley visit the Premier League leaders tomorrow.

Scolari, without a club trophy since collecting the Copa do Brasil with Cruzeiro in 2001, will be anxious to book a quarter-final berth with the minimum of fuss.
That said, there should still be an opportunity for some younger talent from Stamford Bridge to shine.

Chelsea’s poor record of youth development has been one of owner Roman Abramovich’s chief bugbears since taking over in 2003 but there are signs — albeit small ones — that the production line is creaking into action.

Ultimately, of course, Scolari’s success — or lack of it — will be measured in the amount of silverware he returns to the club’s trophy cabinet and the League Cup would be a useful start.

To do that, Chelsea must first negotiate a fourth round tie with Burnley, a side rejuvenated under the astute leadership of Owen Coyle and who travel south backed by a 6,000-strong travelling army, brimming with confidence.

Coyle, for one, is simply relishing the prospect of pitting his wits against Scolari in the biggest game of his fledgling managerial career.

“To stand in the opposite dug-out to a World Cup winner will be a big privilege for me,” Coyle said.

New Straits Times

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