Date: 23rd July 2008 at 8:07pm
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Mind games, they say. Probably they are right – but it should not detract from the fact that Sir Alex’s comments about Chelsea were actually valid.

Though papers boasted bold headlines like ‘Fergie: Chelsea not a major title threat’, he said nothing of the sort. If you read his comments carefully, he just said that he did not expect Chelsea to significally improve under Scolari, no matter how good a manager he is and is therefore not afraid of them.

“It would have to go beyond Mourinho’s performance to really worry us. It will be a challenge with the players they’ve got and the players they’ve added – they’ve got a lot of experience and that was the one thing I was a bit concerned about – but I don’t know how far that team has got to go.”

it’s hard to see where there’s going to be a big improvement with a team that’s really very experienced. Maybe plateaued in a way. How can they accelerate beyond what they’ve done up to now when you see the ages they’ve got?”

“I’m not saying necessarily they’re old because with the modern-day training methods, you should be playing in your thirties, but I don’t see outstanding progress in a team that’s in their thirties.”

These are mostly valid points. Chelsea won’t transform into an unbeatable super team and they’ll have to flex their considerable financial muscle to really improve the team. They have very few young players who could be considered first-team regulars so they must rely on experience to keep up the standards, rather than improving.

Still, Essien fell for Fergie’s words spectacularly – unlike his manager who wisely shrugged off Fergie’s comments – and the Ghanaian issued an angry and defiant response in which he claimed that Chelsea are the best thing since Jesus walked on water.

‘We’ve got the best players in the world at Chelsea and by next May will be the only team in contention. Chelsea will win the title this year,’ he stated in The Sun.

‘Players like Ballack, Lampard and Deco are world class. It is to our advantage that we have so many players who have achieved so much.

‘As you can see in training or during the games, they can always change the games. They have a winning mentality so it’s going to be good for us.

‘Hopefully this year we will win more trophies. Last year was unlucky for us, these things happen in football but you just have to forget about it.’

“I don`t think United will be our principal rivals. Liverpool, Arsenal and a lot of other clubs are signing good players.”

Woohoo, Michael is getting carried away. Anyway, it’s worth a good laugh, nothing else. Or maybe a reminder: a certain John Obi Mikel claimed Chelsea were the best team in the land and would certainly win the 2007/08 league title. Remind me, what did Chelsea win last season?