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Ferguson praises Chelsea boss

Alex Ferguson believes new Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas has made a promising start to his Stamford Bridge career. Villas-Boas takes his side to Old Trafford looking to emulate their performance in April 2010, since when Manchester United have dropped just two points in 23 home league games.

At 33, the former Porto coach is the youngest manager in the top flight, less than half the age of Ferguson, who will be 70 on New Year's Eve.

Some felt the Blues boss may struggled to impose himself on his star-studded squad but he has coped well so far, although Ferguson said: "There are similarities to the time when I came down from Aberdeen. I had achieved some things at Aberdeen. That helped me. It is the same for Villas-Boas. He won the double last year with Porto and also the Europa League."

He added: "That achievement will stand him in good stead in terms of the start to his tenure at Chelsea. After that, the impression the players will get from him, in terms of his knowledge of the game and his man-management skills, is all in the future. He has had a good start though."

One issue it does seem Villas-Boas will have to deal with at some point is the matter of older players in his squad. Most of Chelsea's more established stars are now over 30, a point Fernando Torres made in rather blunt fashion with the interview he posted on his own website earlier this week.

The arrival of Juan Mata from Valencia and the introduction of Daniel Sturridge to the Blues starting line-up has given them a fresher feel. But John Terry and Frank Lampard are both expected to be recalled at the weekend, giving Chelsea a very familiar look once more.

Not that Ferguson necessarily views that as a bad thing. After all, last season he claimed a record 19th title thanks to a squad bulging with experience.

"You can only approach the identification of players when they get older from their abilities on the pitch," he said.

"Ryan Giggs keeps surprising everyone. He scored on Wednesday night, 17 years after he scored his first goal in Europe.

"You can retain your hunger. There are other good examples with Paul Scholes last season, Gary Neville kept coming back even with all his injuries. Edwin van der Sar was fantastic despite being almost 41. By looking after yourself and having the will to do it, you can have a long career."