Luiz Felipe Scolari may have been charged with restoring some King's Road swagger to Chelsea, but old habits clearly die hard for the Brazilian. Scolari's penchant for tough training sessions brought the FIFA World Cup™ to his native country and banished Portugal's flaky reputation on the international stage, so there have been few complaints from Chelsea's millionaire superstars during a rigorous pre-season at the club's plush Surrey headquarters.
The west Londoners have been training twice daily under Scolari's watchful eye since he began work in early July and are about to embark on an arduous two-and-a-half week tour of China, Malaysia and Russia, which begins on Sunday.
For Deco, the club's new eight million pounds (10 million euros) signing, there is nothing surprising about Scolari's punishing schedules. The Portuguese playmaker experienced them first hand during the 59-year-old's spell as Portugal head coach, although they are a far cry from the approach taken at his former club, Barcelona.
At Camp Nou, training was famously -- or perhaps notoriously -- relaxed. Frank Rijkaard, the club's former head coach, was criticised by sections of the Catalan press for a laid-back approach which, they claimed, was reflected in the club's failure to win a trophy last season.
Deco, for his part, prefers Scolari's more intense style. "I have noticed that we are training more here which I like," he said. "We train in the mornings and in the afternoons as well and we spend more time together to recover from the sessions. That helps us get on more as players because we are spending time together as a group.
"During training, the manager is harder than he normally is. He is a very friendly, affectionate guy. but when he works he takes it very seriously. He wants players to be dedicated -- not playing around -- so you have to work hard and that is fine for everyone."
Frustration at Barca
Deco has more reason than most for craving success at Stamford Bridge this season. The 29-year-old endured a frustrating campaign at Barca last year, with his attitude and aptitude publicly questioned by president Juan Laporta just prior to his departure, although he was not alone. Ronaldinho was also ostracised, with the Brazilian subsequently joining AC Milan.
"I'm pleased that Ronnie found the best solution for him because it was important that he left Barcelona," Deco added. "I must say that I think they were very unfair to him. For me, Ronnie was the best player Barcelona ever had. Now he has joined a club which will give him what he needs.
"As for me, Chelsea is the best place for me to come. It is great that there are so many good players at the club, because that is what I am used to. The times I have played against Chelsea in the past have always been very hard, so I know that we can win the Champions League and the Premier League again."
Chelsea's chances of doing that rest not just on Scolari's ability to attract more of world football's top talents to Stamford Bridge, but also keeping the ones already on the pay-roll. Deco appealed to the club's power brokers to keep Frank Lampard during his official unveiling on Friday and Didier Drogba, also linked with a move to the continent, was also singled out for praise.
"Drogba is one of the best centre-forwards in the world and all the big clubs want players like him," Deco said. "I don't know whether he will stay but I want him to stay and I would love to play with him because he is a fantastic player. To win the Champions League, you need players like Drogba. So I am not surprised that all the clubs are trying to get him out of Chelsea."