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Senegal through but lose pair to suspension


Content Cole backs Villas-Boas

Defender Ashley Cole has backed new manager Andre Villas-Boas to be a success at Chelsea, and insisted he would not now entertain a move to Real Madrid.

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Cole worked with Villas-Boas for one season in 2006-07, when the former FC Porto boss was part of Jose Mourinho's coaching staff. And Cole believes he will return to Stamford Bridge with the respect of all those who are still at the club.

With Mourinho in charge at Real, Cole has previously been strongly linked with a move to the Bernabeu. But the England international dismissed this as he prepares for the new season: "Never even thought about it," he told Sky Sports. "I had issues before where I thought about it, but this season I have been fine, I have been on holiday so I have not read anything."

Villas-Boas was responsible for prepping the team on the opposition's style of play, and making sure everyone knew their jobs for each and every game. It shows a tactical awareness which will prove crucial is he is to end owner Roman Abramovich's search for a Champions League trophy.

"Honestly, it was amazing how thorough he was," Cole told The Sun. "He would brief Jose on all the players we were facing to the point where we knew which foot they favoured, whether they liked to go inside or outside, preferred to cross deep or short, their stamina levels, the lot.

"If we'd wanted to know what they had for breakfast I'm sure he could have found out for us.

"We wouldn't see Andre on the training pitch but he would be there at all our games working away in the background. He was quite quiet but very polite and always said 'hello'.

"People say they are surprised he's Chelsea manager because he's so young but since he left us he's won everything he could at Porto.

"We already know how enthusiastic he is so hopefully it will all come together and we can start winning trophies again."

Cole added of Villas-Boas' predecessor, Carlo Ancelotti: "He's left his mark on Chelsea by winning the Double in his first year but we've got to move on now. It would be good to have a manager long term but that's down to the big boss upstairs Mr Abramovich and if he feels the need to change then he's going to do it. It's his club so it's up to him. He's the main man."

Cole, 30, also rejected claims that most of the Chelsea squad is over the hill and is in need of an injection of fresh, young talent. He added: "I don't feel old and I don't think the other players do. We are a fit team, Lamps can run forever, I feel I can run a lot and Didier is still strong and fighting.

"There's plenty of life left in me. I started out with Lee Dixon and Tony Adams and used to think 'my God, these lot are old'. Now I'm sitting at training next to youngsters like Josh McEachran and Ryan Bertrand and they might be looking at me the same way.

"But it makes you want to win even more, you get hungrier, and work harder to stop youngsters taking your place. I feel fine."

Of his off-field incidents, he told BBC Sport: "I have made mistakes and have just got to live with it. I just wish people would judge me more on football and speak about football more than a life that people don't really know.

"If someone had actually seen the [shooting] incident - you wouldn't laugh because it was a stupid thing to do - but the whole situation was crazy. Of course it was an accident. But if I wanted to address every single thing in the paper I'd lose my mind. It makes me crazy now when I hear things.

"But like I say, you've just got to deal with it. I'm just here to play football. That's all I want to do.''


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