Ranieri is asked to explain his tactics

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Paul Smith, Chelsea's chief executive, has given a rare insight into the level of interest in team affairs at Stamford Bridge taken by the club's owner, Roman Abramovich.

Smith revealed that the Chelsea manager, Claudio Ranieri, has been instructed to give the Russian billionaire a detailed run-down on his team and their tactics before every match.

However, Smith, who will continue as the chief executive until Peter Kenyon's arrival after so-called "gardening leave" following his departure from Manchester United, stressed that Abramovich did not interfere - and retains his full confidence in the Italian.

Smith said: "Roman has full confidence in Claudio. He is getting more and more interested in the mechanics of the team and he has briefings from Claudio on the tactics. He does not interfere. He is just interested."

Smith stressed that reports which continue to link the England manager, Sven Goran Eriksson, with the job at Stamford Bridge in the near future are false. He also insisted that Ranieri was not under any particular pressure to produce silverware for Chelsea this season.

"At the moment from Chelsea's perspective, Claudio is certainly the No 1 man and he has the full confidence of everybody at the club," he insisted.

However, Smith added: "There is no internal pressure for Claudio to produce that [the Premiership title] this season.

"But there is a general expectation that Chelsea will win the Premiership in the foreseeable future."

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