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The Thursday Interview: Alex


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Four months after his first Chelsea appearance, Alex has given his first major interview and confirmed that he is settling in rather well to life in SW6, discussing his English, team-mates and those spectacular goals. The Brazilian defender arrived at the Bridge from PSV Eindhoven in the summer, and quickly set about immersing himself into British culture. He was even spotted boarding a red London bus outside the ground the day he arrived in London, and while he admits he has had his difficulties with language, the settling in period is now well and truly over. He began his career with legendary Brazilian club Santos, where he won the national championship, his first medal, before moving to Holland in 2004. 'When I first arrived in Holland it was really difficult, the cold and the language particularly, but I am fine here, perfectly adapted. I had spent all my life in Brazil and it was a real shock,' he admitted. After three years at PSV, in which he had seen his stock rise and rise, Alex made the move across the North Sea to ply his trade with the Blues, something he is very proud to have done. There can be few more demanding tasks than making your debut at Anfield, but this was the prospect facing the defender following Ricardo Carvalho's injury at Reading in August. Since that point, Alex has been a regular in the side, a reluctant beneficiary of the injuries suffered by both Carvalho and John Terry. Both have been tremendous influences on him since he arrived. 'Both of them have been very helpful. They talk all the time and obviously Belletti helps too,' Alex said. 'We talk before games about which striker is faster or who does what manoeuvre, and it's all very helpful.' While many in a new country would have struggled to bed in, Alex was fortunate to count on several other Portuguese speakers within the squad - Carvalho, Paulo Ferreira and Hilario were all there upon his arrival, while Belletti became the second Brazilian at the club weeks later. There was also of course José Mourinho and his coaching staff, who Alex also compliments for helping him settle. 'The whole group is really useful Belletti and the other Portuguese speakers are very helpful. If there is a problem in training or whatever they always jump in, it's a really good group,' said the defender, who had been nicknamed The Tank at his previous club. 'It's because I was strong and big and tough, because of the way I played,' he recalled. 'I don't have one here yet, but I think they are trying to think of one for me.' Things have been going well lately for the Blues, with the side unbeaten in 15 games, and recovering from a shaky patch. Alex has played in a dozen of those, and has been a major reason why so few goals have been conceded. Since Mourinho's exit in mid September, Avram Grant has suffered just one defeat, in his first game away at Manchester United, and Alex, who was not used that day, believes we are now back on track after a difficult period. 'Yes it was very difficult,' he sighed. 'There was great confusion for everybody. We were all very used to Mourinho, and he was a great man who helped me a great deal. 'Obviously he spoke Portuguese and helped me to adapt my game, but Avram Grant is also very helpful and ready to talk, it's just different.0,,10268~3495357,00.jpg 'There was a great deal of confusion and it did make a difference. We lost points, particularly at home with some draws, but gradually we are creeping up and keeping in touch with the leaders which is the most important thing.' After key victories at home to West Ham and Sunderland, we are now just three points behind leaders Arsenal as we prepare to travel to the Emirates Stadium on Sunday. While acknowledging the problems we faced, Alex insists there is yet more to come from Chelsea. 'We are all looking to improve every day in training and games, and especially at home, because losing points is not good enough. 'Of course we have problems with injuries, but everybody who is fit is always looking to improve,' he maintained. With Terry now operating at full fitness, and Carvalho's return imminently anticipated, Alex knows he will have to be on top of his game if he is to keep his place in a side that is beginning to move through the gears. Such is his quick adaptation to English football, it is easy to forget he is still a novice on these shores, and the player himself puts that down to the similarities in English and Dutch football. 'It's much the same as Holland, the formations, tactics and the way we play,' he considered. 'The difference here is the quality is higher, and it is more intense. The standard of play, the speed, it is all much greater.' One thing Alex does have in his armoury that his colleagues do not, this season at least is a tendency to find the net. The defender met up with his former coach at PSV Ronald Koeman this week, with the Dutchman now in charge at Valencia, and noted the similarities he shares with the former Holland man. 'I saw videos of him and like me he scored lots of free kicks and spectacular goals,' he smiled. 'He was a really good guy, and a very intelligent, tactically aware person.' Having already found the net with a blistering strike at Middlesbrough, Alex doubled his Blues tally with a somewhat tamer effort at Rosenborg a fortnight ago, and he now believes the pressure is on to keep producing these moments. 'I have to keep doing it! I like to come in and help the attack so have to keep doing that,' he said. 'I don't practice too much because it's dangerous, you can do yourself an injury, but luckily I have been able to do it in a couple of games.' When asked if he ever scores typical centre half's goals, those brave efforts inside the six-yard box that can go in via a bullet header, a knee or a nose, the Brazilian laughed, and explained: 'It's a bit difficult, I dream about it, but that's a speciality for JT rather than me!'Source: Chelsea FC

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He has actually done really well since joining us, and he has settled down into the team nicely. He has had more playing time than even he thought he would get thanks to injuries to both JT and Riccy. He has been solid and the fact we have kept so many clean sheets is a positive for him.Will be tough for him when Riccy comes back but he will still get games because it is no risk at all to play him. Probably the best backup centre back you could ask to have.

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