Storm gathers for Scolari

Chelsea 1 Southend United 1
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The Independent Football

Amr Zaki, Luis Fabiano, Wagner Love. The names of three strikers admired by, discussed by and, to a greater and lesser extent, coveted by the Chelsea manager Luiz Felipe Scolari. And yet, he said publicly again after this embarrassing draw to League One opponents, in which chances were squandered and a cutting edge sorely lacking, he does not need to buy anyone in the January transfer window.

"No, no," Scolari said with a shake of his head. "I have strikers, I have many strikers. We need to score more goals, more confidence, that's all it is."

It is a curious state of affairs especially in view of the failed £30m bid for Robinho that Chelsea made, and Scolari prayed would succeed, during the summer and especially in light of the prosaic, lacking in potency football that his team have slipped into, catatonic-like, over the past few weeks. And especially as no-one truly believes him and that Chelsea are expected to buy.

He needed Robinho, he craved to have Robinho and failure to sign him only highlighted further the imbalance of the ageing squad that, Deco and Jose Bosingwa apart, he inherited. There is, undeniably, a sense of slide. "If they buy some players then OK, it's easy," Scolari said. "If not then I am satisfied because I have good players. If they sell one or two more players, it's not a problem for me."

What did he mean by that? It's hard to take Scolari's utterances too literally. His English is not good enough. But are Chelsea planning to sell more than just Wayne Bridge in this transfer window? Certainly Alex wants to go, while Didier Drogba's unhappiness continues to be a problem the club, if the right deal could be struck, would prefer to be without.

And what of the £11m-plus pocketed, gratefully, from Manchester City for Bridge? Surely it will be re-invested immediately, as Scolari privately wants? Or is the smarting felt by Roman Abramovich over the £15m he spent on Nicolas Anelka last January, along with another £9m for Branislav Ivanovic still being felt? Value for money was not a consideration for the Russian billionaire when he first splashed the cash, but it has been an increasing concern.

Abramovich wants to see some return, which also continues to raise questions not just about his own commitment to Chelsea but about just how hard he has been hit by the global financial crisis. The message seems to be – very hard indeed.

In the middle of all this is Scolari (right). The 60-year-old has, interestingly, constantly reminded everyone that he has signed a two-year deal at Chelsea (with a one-year extension), hardly a signal from a man who wants to build something lasting while those who claimed, when he arrived in England that he is a greater politician than a coach, are starting to feel vindicated. It is looking more and more like one last big pay day.

It is now four draws in five matches and it all adds up to a brewing storm which, in fairness, with a few strong results such as a positive outcome on Sunday away to Manchester United, could be blown out quickly. But drawing at home to Southend certainly does not help. Especially when the visitors talk about the fragility of their opponents.

"They did look a bit vulnerable in the air," said the Southend manager, Steve Tilson. "They missed John Terry [suspended] at the back, he's a leader and wins things in the air, there's no doubt about that. Everyone can see that." Even a team in 13th place in the third tier of English football who could, in fact, have won this tie had another header from Peter Clarke – the ex-Everton apprentice and friend of Wayne Rooney's – looped into the net and not against the top of the cross-bar.

In the end Clarke, in the 91st minute, had to settle, on his 27th birthday, with the equaliser which earned a replay at Roots Hall on Wednesday week. Southend rode their luck – Drogba wasted two, simple one-on-ones and Juliano Belletti had a header cleared off the line after Salomon Kalou had nodded Chelsea in front – but they also worked hard, put their bodies on the line and gave themselves something to cling to.

"Of course we spoke about the problems they had been having at home," Clarke said. "We watch the football, we watch Match of the Day and the Premier League games. We've seen that 80-odd [unbeaten home] game run come to an end. We believed that there was possibly a chink in the armour. We set out our stall, we worked hard during the week, and had a game plan."

That Chelsea – Southend were also indebted to a fine save, after Clarke's strike, by their goalkeeper Steve Mildenhall to deny Franco Di Santo – failed to successfully deal with that game plan is the concern for the Premier League club. Especially if they do not call on any reinforcements.

Goals: Kalou (31) 1-0; Clarke (90) 1-1.

Chelsea (4-1-4-1): Cudicini; Ferreira, Carvalho, Ivanovic, A Cole; Mikel; Belletti, Lampard, J Cole (Di Santo, 84), Kalou (Sinclair, 87); Drogba. Substitutes not used: Hilario (gk), Mineiro, Anelka, Mancienne, Sawyer.

Southend United (4-4-2): Mildenhall; Sankofa, Clarke, Barrett, Herd; Grant, Christophe (Moussa, 75), McCormack, Stanislas; Barnard (Freedman, 75), Revell (Laurent, 75). Substitutes not used: Joyce (gk), Francis, Betsy, O'Keefe.

Referee: S Attwell (Warwickshire).

Booked: Chelsea Mikel, Carvalho; Southend McCormack, Grant.

Man of the match: Clarke.

Attendance: 41,090

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