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Page last updated at 16:28 GMT, Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Scolari calls for Chelsea unity


Scolari accepts blame for Man Utd defeat

Luiz Felipe Scolari has taken the blame for Chelsea's loss at Manchester United on Sunday, but says they must now pull together if they are to bounce back.

The Blues boss said he was wrong to open up the midfield at Old Trafford, and conceded his poor set-piece planning cost them in the 3-0 defeat.

"It's more my error than the players," said the Brazilian. "Now I need to change systems and start from new.

"We need more to work together and when it is wrong we need more togetherness."

The damaging defeat left Chelsea four points adrift of league leaders Liverpool and only a point ahead of United, who have two games in hand over their title rivals.

And the defeat extended the Blues' current run of just three victories in their past 11 games in all competitions.

It has also raised questions in the press about Scolari's position in west London.

However, BBC sports editor Mihir Bose believes there is no chance of the Brazilian being sacked.

"Scolariís position, the Chelsea hierarchy insists, is not in jeopardy," said Bose.

"But it is recognised that Scolari cannot carry on as he has so far."

Sunday's performance at Old Trafford has led to some critics questioning Chelsea's title aspirations, with newspaper reports suggesting that a breakdown in the relationship between Scolari and his players - in particular Nicolas Anelka - is at the heart of the Londoners' recent struggles.

Watch the whole Scolari news conference

"There has been no row with me," said Scolari. "It is my choice sometimes - this or that player.

"I have 24 good players but only two centre-forwards. One is playing and not the other.

"Everybody thinks it is easy to play two strikers because they are good, but I try to prove to the people and for me and Chelsea, that is difficult.

"When one player is outside, as was Didier Drogba, he needs to play two, three or four games, and in that time I need to look at what's happened.

"Afterwards I have to decide. It is my option."

Bose added: "What Scolari needs to do, say insiders, is be tough with the players. Show them who is boss.

"One well-placed source told me: 'He has allowed his players to get on top of him. He needs to show he runs the team not the players, however well paid they may be or however high profile'."

Defending his tactics on Sunday, Scolari said: "I read that the press said that I opened the midfield against Manchester United - sure, this is the reality.

"I say this to the press - I opened the midfield and I am responsible for us conceding the goals because I tried to change the result. (Losing) 1-0, 3-0 or 5-0 is the same to me.

"Other coaches try to say 'no'. I say 'yes, I am wrong' - this is my style.

"But after one victory, or two or three, we will relax and win more. We just need more attention and more togetherness."

Scolari's men face a potentially tricky FA Cup third round replay against Southend on Wednesday, and the Brazilian admits that match has taken on extra significance.

"Southend is the game of the year," he said. "We need to think the same way.

"It's the FA Cup. If our spirit is not the same as Southend's, then it's difficult, but if our spirit is the same then we have good chance because we have better players than Southend.

"But we need to prove it on the pitch."

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see also
Chelsea 'must give Scolari time'
13 Jan 09 |  Chelsea
Alan Hansen's column
12 Jan 09 |  Football
Title hopes damaged, says Scolari
12 Jan 09 |  Premier League
Lee Dixon's tactical view
12 Jan 09 |  Premier League
Man Utd 3-0 Chelsea
11 Jan 09 |  Premier League

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