Andre Villas-Boas began his reign as Chelsea manager yesterday by asserting his authority over the powerful figures within the Stamford Bridge dressing room.
The 33-year-old Portuguese, who is the same age as players Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard and who has just 20 months' experience as a manager under his belt, is to tighten up discipline at the club's Cobham training ground. Villas-Boas will impose a strict code of conduct for players after the more relaxed approach of all the managers, including the Double-winning coach Carlo Ancelotti, who have succeeded Jose Mourinho since 2007.
Villas-Boas even went as far as to say that the Chelsea players are "social role models" and are expected to behave as such, which is a new stance by the club, which has in the past attempted to distance itself from the sex scandals involving captain John Terry and left-back Ashley Cole. "We want them to triumph as persons, as social role models. When they do that, they triumph as players as well," he said.
He confirmed that Terry would remain captain but added the caveat "as long as he can perform to the utmost of his ability".
Villas-Boas also stated he would not be building his team around £50m striker Fernando Torres. "We have to fine- tune the whole organisation of the team," he said.
The Portuguese novice manager insisted he has the final say on transfers but said he wants to judge the players after they return for pre-season training on 6 July before deciding who might be moved on, and who to buy.
"There are no players imposed on me. With the top quality you can get at this club, you can move for the best players in the world. That's what we do if we have the necessity. The main thing first is to consider and value what we have at the club. Everyone in first, then decision-making. At the moment, we're stopped in time," he said.
Villas-Boas revealed his back-room staff yesterday, and confirmed the appointment of the former West Bromwich Albion manager Roberto di Matteo, 41, as his No 2. Chelsea's former reserve-team manager Steve Holland, also 41, has been promoted to assistant manager, while Jose Mario Rocha, 48, has become the physical fitness coach, and Daniel Sousa, 25, is the senior opposition scout.
Villas-Boas has not shied away from making difficult decisions already at Chelsea. The assistant first-team coach Paul Clement, medical director Bryan English and fitness coach Glen Driscoll have all been put on gardening leave while compensation packages are agreed. Villas-Boas said: "There were changes that needed to happen."
He has also caused upset in the Netherlands, after his decision to cancel next week's friendly at Vitesse Arnhem, to say nothing of the ill feeling he left behind in Porto over his decision to leave, once Chelsea made it clear they would pay his £13.3m buyout clause.
Villas-Boas has signed a three-year deal worth £4.5m a season, but claimed he could have earned more money staying in Portugal. "I can assure you that Porto could beat that offer. They were ready to make a competitive offer for me stay, but I took the challenge," he said. "We went through a crazy year of success and trophies but, in the end, I felt I could challenge myself a little bit more."
He promised to bring attacking football to Chelsea, but accepted the inevitability of the sack should he fail to win a major trophy next season. "To win straight away, on a weekly basis. There's no running away from that challenge. That is what I face. I would be surprised to be kept on if I don't win," he said. "Who expects to stay as Chelsea manager if they don't win anything?"
"It's not just a question of winning, but winning with a certain flair. Everyone likes attacking football. We are proud defenders of the beauty of the game. It makes no sense for us to get into a club like this and play dreadful football."
Villas-Boas also challenged the current squad to raise their standards once more. "Most of them are experienced and think their talent is their talent. But we think there is something extra we can get out of them, so that is why we focus on ambition and motivation. That is the philosophy we have from top to bottom in our departments," he said.