Out to be a class above

LONDON: Chelsea manager Claudio Ranieri vowed to build a side able to compete with Europe's finest as he paraded the English Premier League club's five close-season signings on Friday. 

The Italian said the purchase of new midfielders Damien Duff and Geremi, defenders Glen Johnson and Wayne Bridge and goalkeeper Marco Ambrosio represented a major step towards competing with the likes of Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool. 

The spending spree at the west London club, who finished fourth last season to earn a Champions League qualifying berth, has topped £37mil (US$59.32 million) since Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich took over a month ago. 

But Ranieri knows money alone will not guarantee success. “The owner said you can buy the players but not the wins. It is important to work hard. I think we all want to win, the owner, me, the players ... we all want to win,” he told a news conference. 

MONEY,MONEY:Chelsea Football Club manager Claudio Rainieri (third from right))stands with his newest players Glen Johnson (left),Damien Duff (second from left),Wayne Bridge (third from left),MarcoAmbrosio (second from right)and Geremi (right)at the Stamford Bridge Arena in London on Saturday.Chelsea have spentRM225.41mil buying players for the new season.- AFPpic

“Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool ... they are better than us because they have a bigger squad. But now we are building. 

“The first step is to build a group, build a squad. This is very important. I have confidence in myself, in my players and of course in my new owner. We are building a good team, a team like Real Madrid, Milan, Manchester United.” 

Ranieri did not confirm if any further signings would be made before the transfer window closes at the end of August. 

Media reports have linked Chelsea with an unlikely swoop for Real Madrid striker Raul, Manchester United's Argentina midfielder Juan Sebastian Veron and Leeds United goalkeeper Nigel Martyn. 

“I don't want to speak about names. Now it's Martyn, then it will be (Real Madrid striker) Raul. It's all bullshit,” Ranieri joked. 

Ranieri said he did not feel under any more pressure than before because of the new club's new wealth and consequent high expectations for next season. 

“If I didn't like pressure I'd change my job. All managers have pressure. The pressure is good. It's my life,” he said. 

Chelsea's record signing, £17mil Damien Duff, said he tried not to think about the price on his head and just wanted to concentrate on playing football. 

The Ireland winger said he had thought long and hard about leaving Blackburn to join Chelsea. 

“I had no reason to leave Blackburn, I was happy there,” the 24-year-old said. “I rang everybody I knew. I wasn't going to make a snap decision. But it will be a big new challenge.” 

Duff said that, like their manager, the players did not feel burdened by expectations because of the club's spending power. 

“Every year Chelsea expect to do well ... We're just going to try to get the right results,” he said. – Reuters  

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