Andre Villas-Boas has rejected suggestions from Sir Alex Ferguson that his inheritance of an ageing squad and his refusal to do quick transfer business will hamper his start as Chelsea's manager.
On tour in the United States, the Manchester United manager said that Chelsea had not renewed their team, which might be a problem for Villas-Boas as the season nears. "They are approaching an evolutionary stage and the new manager hasn't signed anyone yet," Ferguson said of Chelsea in Chicago. "So that might be a bit of a concern for their fans."
The spine of the side Villas-Boas inherited from Carlo Ancelotti – Petr Cech, John Terry, Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba – is unchanged since Jose Mourinho's first season at Stamford Bridge in 2004-05. Nine of his squad are over 30. "Chelsea are maybe the second oldest team in the Premiership but look at the trophies these players have won and how successful they have been," he said, although it is telling that the two players Villas-Boas has signed – Oriol Romeu and Thibault Courtois are both 19.
"You have to find the correct balance between experience and youth and then find out what kind of game you can play," he said. "These players here still have a lot to offer."
Ferguson first commented about the age of Chelsea's players three years ago. He said the then manager, Luiz Filipe Scolari, would be able to squeeze little improvement out of a side where so many were nearing 30.
In the two seasons after Ferguson made those remarks, Chelsea won the FA Cup twice and the Premier League in 2010. After a 4-0 victory over a Thailand Premier League team in Bangkok yesterday, Villas-Boas pointed to the impact of one of his youngest and most promising footballers, Josh McEachran, whose lovely interplay with Branislav Ivanovic set up the third Chelsea goal.
"We have to try to play this kind of aggressive game," he said. "We have to look for balls ahead and not just play from side to side. Josh offers this flexibility – he is an amazing British talent. He can go on a run in the side like Patrick van Aanholt and Ryan Bertrand have done and get plenty of experience in the Premiership and even in the Champions League.
"Josh has to show he is competitive and perform with the others. There will be plenty of opportunities for everybody. I wouldn't like to focus on one player but it is all in his brain. He is fast, he anticipates problems."
The ageing team won their first trophy yesterday, the Coca-Cola Super Cup, although as the fireworks exploded over the giddingly steep banks of the Rajamangala Stadium, Terry seemed unusually sheepish.
The Chelsea captain appeared unsure whether a lap of honour was required before disappearing down the tunnel. Again, Fernando Torres did not score and nor did he look likely to. When he does find the net for Chelsea, he may – like Robert Green did after keeping his first clean sheet for West Ham after the disasters of the World Cup – make a gesture to the press box, where he presumed his tormentors were sitting. Torres, you sense, would have rather more class.
Of the goals Chelsea did score, three were beautifully taken, while one, a cross from Jose Bosingwa, aimed at Torres, was almost punched into his own net by the Thai keeper, Pattakorn Tanganurat. Lampard scored from distance and Florent Malouda finished well.