Cole reassures Villas-Boas he will have respect from players


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The Independent Football

Chelsea's new manager André Villas-Boas is preparing to meet the players tomorrow for the first time since his appointment, and has been promised by the defender Ashley Cole that there are "no egos" at Stamford Bridge.

Villas-Boas, 33, is to introduce a tighter regime and has already marked the players' cards by insisting they will be "social role models". The Portuguese manager has told Chelsea's owner Roman Abramovich that he will insist on improved behaviour from the players, after a string of embarrassing incidents including the infamous occasion when Cole accidentally shot a work-placement student with an air rifle at the club's training ground in Cobham, Surrey.

The relationship between the former Porto manager Villas-Boas – who used to work as an opposition scout for Chelsea – and the dressing room, will be scrutinised from day one for any signs that the senior players are not fully behind their young and inexperienced manager.

Cole said yesterday that Villas-Boas can expect no problems. "Age is just a number, he has experience of being at Porto, a big club," Cole said.

"Hopefully he can bring that glory to Chelsea, but I don't think the age thing is anything to worry about, I don't think the players think about that. He is our manager now and we have to go out and fight for him.

"Whatever manager comes in we respect him, we are not kids, everyone thinks there are egos at Chelsea, but there aren't and we have to make Chelsea the squad of a few years ago and win trophies."

Cole, who insisted he has no intention of leaving Chelsea despite rumours that he might depart for Real Madrid, spoke of his regrets about the air gun incident.

"I have made mistakes and have just got to live with it," Cole said. "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."

Chelsea yesterday confirmed they have appointed the former Liverpool sports therapist Ivan Ortega to work with players' fitness and rehabilitation from injury. Ortega is understood to be close to Chelsea's £50m striker Fernando Torres but Chelsea insist he will be working with the entire first team squad and not just the struggling striker.