Premier League

Scolari defends Chelsea record

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Sun, 24 Mar 2013 18:45:00

Karim Benzema says he is 'fine' at Real Madrid, but is prepared to keep an open mind regarding his long-term future at the Santiago Bernabeu.

The France international joined Real from Lyon three years ago and has been sharing the striking duties with Gonzalo Higuain this season.

He has been linked with Chelsea and long-time admirers Manchester United at various points this term, and the 25-year-old is prepared to wait to see what the future holds.

"My future? I am fine in Madrid," Benzema told radio station RMC. "But, each year you cannot know what will happen.

"I am under contract until 2015, so we will see."

Benzema also responded to critics of his performances for France, with the forward picked on for not singing the national anthem.

He added: "You could take Zidane as an example, who didn't really sing it. Even if I sing it, I will not then score a hat-trick. To me, it is a dream to play in the French team.

"People expect a lot from me, I am aware of that. On the pitch, I cannot do everything on my own. I cannot get the ball and dribble past eight players. I have made several assists, but I feel it is useless.

"The French team should take more risks. If I play alone in attack, the wingers should make more runs. But we all have to work on that."

Scolari, now in his second spell as Brazil boss, returns to Stamford Bridge on Monday night when his side tackle Fabio Capello's Russia in a friendly.

Chelsea were fourth in the Premier League and still in both the FA Cup and Champions League when Scolari was sacked in February 2009 after just seven months in the hot-seat.

"I believe my time at Chelsea was not as bad as people have been talking about," Scolari said.

"The numbers show that, the games we won. I don't think it was that bad."

Asked whether he was given enough time, Scolari added: "I don't think so but it was a decision from the management.

"Everywhere I work I am just a member of staff and if somebody thinks I am not doing a good job, they can sack me.

"That happens everywhere. I accept that. I did enjoy my time here at Chelsea and I was happy while I was here. It was one of the great experiences I have had in my life."

Scolari was sacked by Russian owner Roman Abramovich so the club could "maintain a challenge for the trophies we are still competing for".

Scolari could not answer whether he would have delivered those trophies.

But Chelsea's Brazil defender David Luiz said Scolari is still held in high regard at the club - and suggested he could have a point to prove against Russia on Monday.

"Mr Scolari is an excellent professional. He has been a coach in many clubs all over the world and also national teams," Luiz said.

"I'm sure he is happy to come back here because regardless of what happened here he has very good memories.

"He has got history here as well so I believe what he wants here is to put the cherry on the top of the cake by winning the game at the stadium where he was manager.

"When somebody doesn't do well everybody outside always talks about the negatives not positives.

"What I have heard, having asked around, is Scolari had a great time, regardless of what happened."

In many ways, Chelsea are in a worse position now than when Scolari left, having become the first defending champions to be eliminated in the group stages of the Champions League.

The club are 19 points behind Manchester United in the Premier League and it has been a winter of discontent at Stamford Bridge, with interim manager Rafael Benitez a hate figure with some supporters.

Luiz recognises it has been a winter of discontent but he is convinced Chelsea can rescue their season.

"I think we are not playing at the level expected from Chelsea and not doing so well this season but in any case I believe we are because we are still competing for three titles," Luiz said.

"We can still win the Europa League, are still in the FA Cup and fighting for a better position in the table so I think we can still get there and this season can still be very good."

Having won the World Cup with Brazil in 2002, Scolari opened his second spell as coach with a 2-1 to England and a 2-2 with Italy in Geneva last Thursday.

Russia had their World Cup qualifier against Northern Ireland postponed in Belfast on Sunday, a decision which Capello fully understood even though it will harm his side's chances.

"The weather was terrible. It was impossible to play. The pitch was covered in snow and the parts without snow were very wet. The ball did not bounce," Capello said.

"We will play when FIFA decide. Northern Ireland had two really important players suspended. For the next game, they will probably be OK. That is not an advantage for us."

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