KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, June 18 – New Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas on Monday vowed to lead the club to an elusive Champions League title at the first attempt, dismissing suggestions his squad of super stars are past their prime.
“In the next year for sure the trophy will arrive in this club,” the former Porto coach declared confidently, in shades of his compatriot Jose Mourinho, the self-proclaimed “special one” who failed to deliver club football’s top prize for Chelsea’s ambitious owner Roman Abramovich.
“Chelsea have been in a couple of semi-finals and also one final in recent times. I don’t see why we can’t go on to win it,” the Portuguese told reporters as the London team arrived in Kuala Lumpur to kick off their 15-day Asia tour.
The trip will be Villas-Boas’ first chance to see his players in competitive action on foreign soil and he said he will make a decision based on that whether to dip into the transfer market.
“We need to get the most information as possible (during the tour). By the time we go to the market, we will know the kind of players we want. Hopefully we can do the deal that we want,” he said.
“I will use all 26 of my players in the tour and we will make a decision once the tour is over.”
And despite being linked with a midfielder to replace the injured Michael Essien, Villas-Boas hinted he would give his ageing squad every chance to show their worth.
“There is plenty of talent in this squad. I believe the players can still find new things in them to exploit and I want to fully potentiate that talent,” he said.
The 33-year-old said all the players will have to prove themselves to him, including £50 million star striker Fernando Torres, who only scored once in 18 appearances for the Blues after joining from Liverpool in January.
“I am not a striker. I am just trying to build on their confidence. This comes with the qualities they have. It is them who offer me ideas,” he said when asked if he will change the shape of the team to suit Torres.
Providing an insight into how he handles senior players — some of whom are about the same age — Villas-Boas said: “It is the players that offer me solutions and we find a balance in between of ideas to put us on the road to success, which is what we want.
“I have to keep the standards high. Any person who sits on the manager’s job at Chelsea is expected to win. I cannot run away from that.”
After playing against a Malaysia XI on Thursday, the Stamford Bridge club, which has a strong following in this football-mad Southeast Asian country, will go to neighbouring Thailand for a match with the Thailand All Stars.
They then head to Hong Kong, where they play a friendly against Kitchee, a local team, before ending their tour against either Blackburn Rovers of Aston Villa.