Chelsea boss Luiz Felipe Scolari refused to rise to taunts from Manchester United after getting his tenure off to a winning start in China.
Unsettled midfielder Frank Lampard underlined his value with a fine chipped goal, while new signings Deco and Jose Bosingwa made their debuts in a comfortable 4-0 victory over Guangzhou.
But the post-match talk was about United boss Sir Alex Ferguson’s latest attempt at mind-games. The Scot, famous for his psychological duels with rivals, suggested that Scolari would struggle to win the Premier League in his first season because his team contained too many old players.
But Brazilian Scolari – no stranger to conflict, having once punched an opposition player – declined to take Ferguson’s bait.
“I will not answer this question. This is not a question for me,” said the World Cup-winning coach. “I think I have a lot of experienced players and also some young boys in my team. But I feel we have experience for the Premier League or whatever league.”
Lampard is yet to commit his future to the Blues, despite reports the club will finally bow to his demand for a five-year contract.
“Frank is here, he is with us training and playing very well, he is an important player for us,” Scolari added. “The speculation is normal.”
Scolari reserved special praise for Deco, his former Portugal charge, who was involved in Salomon Kalou’s opener. Young striker Franco di Santo and England winger Shaun Wright-Phillips added the other goals late on.
“Deco is a fantastic player and in this team I think he helps his friends to play more than they play in the last season,” Scolari said.
“Sometimes he is a different player because his style is different but it’s a style, with all the players together, that is fantastic for us.”