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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Aug 9, 2006

Jose rules out new swoop after Crespo exit

Jose Mourinho insists he has no plans to rush out and replace Hernan Crespo with another striker.

Crespo returned to Inter Milan this week on a two-year loan deal leaving Chelsea short of recognised centre-forwards.

Carlton Cole has joined West Ham this summer but Mourinho believes the arrivals of Andriy Shevchenko and Salomon Kalou give him enough options.

The Blues boss, linked with big-money moves for Fernando Torres and Carlos Tevez, also counts his wingers Arjen Robben or Shaun Wright-Phillips as front men.

Mourinho said: 'We are better than last season. We lost Crespo but we have Shevchenko. We lost Damien Duff but we have Kalou. We have no problems.

'We have Didier Drogba, we have Shaun, we have Robben. We have a lot of options.' Mourinho's immediate problems appear to lie in defence where he has been forced to use right-back Paulo Ferreira as a centre-back and a left-back in the absence of William Gallas.

Gallas, out of contract at the end of next season, returned to training at Chelsea on Monday after failing to report for the club's pre-season training camp in the USA.

He was not considered fit enough to take part in this week's friendlies against Feyenoord and Celtic.

Mourinho has admitted there is an offer on the table for Arsenal's Ashley Cole but he remains anxious not to lose unsettled Gallas before the start of the season.

Claude Makelele was also excused from the two games this week because he is only just back in training.

Makelele was granted an extended break by Mourinho after the World Cup - unlike Gallas who stayed away without the manager's permission.

Petr Cech is recovering from a shoulder operation he underwent after the World Cup and Joe Cole will miss the start of the season, even though his knee injury is not as bad as first feared.

Mourinho claims it has been hard to prepare his team for the new season because of the limited time available with his players after the disruption of the World Cup.

He took his squad to the USA for a pre-season training camp and Chelsea then played three warm-up games in five days, ending with today's friendly against Celtic.

The Premiership champions face FA Cup winners Liverpool in the Community Shield, on Sunday, but Mourinho has already warned he will treat the Cardiff showpiece as just another friendly.

The Chelsea boss then loses the bulk of his squad to international duty before opening the Premiership campaign against Manchester City.

Mourinho said: 'This is the most difficult pre-season I have had in my career.

'We have to play Liverpool after only 15 days of pre-season. That is very difficult.

'Other teams at this moment are in better condition than we are. We are working to improve and the natural tendency is to get better.'

Mourinho, stung last season by criticism that Chelsea played dull football, has vowed to make his team more attractive this season.

He expects the formidable partnership of Michael Ballack and Frank Lampard to provide new thrust from midfield.

Mourinho said: 'The main change is that last season we played with just one attacking midfield player.

'This season, with Ballack and Lampard, we have players to score goals and get the ball to the box. We will play with just one holding midfield player.'

Ballack has no concerns about adjusting to the high-tempo style of English football after more than a decade in German football.

The Germany captain said: 'It's a different game in England but I've played here many times in the Champions League and it's never been a problem.

'It's a different tempo but you can get used to that. Having played at international level you get used to different styles of play.

'It's a new club and a new challenge and that's something I'm looking forward to.

'I've been impressed with the professionalism and discipline in every aspect of the club but also the fun parts too. In training we like to have a laugh.'