Premier League - Villas-Boas not pushing panic button
It was not the start to his Premier League managerial career that Andre Villas-Boas wanted, but he left the Britannia Stadium on Sunday night confident Chelsea are on track to reclaim the title from Manchester United.
The Portuguese brought a formidable record from Porto with him, but he was unable to begin the season on a winning note as Stoke held out for a goalless draw.
Villas-Boas was part of Jose Mourinho's backroom staff when he began Chelsea's recent run of silverware by lifting the Premier League trophy in 2005, and the new man is making no secret of what he will consider success to be come May.
He said of his first match: "I would have enjoyed it better if I had won it but I came up short in terms of the result. I was away from it (the Premier League) a couple of years but I never stopped following it. There's so many beautiful things in this game."
He added: "The challenge this season is to get back the Premier League title. It's a point away from home, at Stoke, and it's a difficult place. Last season we finished second and we are here because we want to finish first."
Villas-Boas was playing his cards close to his chest in terms of possible forays into the transfer market, saying only: "There's plenty of time still to make those decisions. I think the market will get extremely frenetic in the last week."
After an even first half where Chelsea dealt well with Stoke's long throws and corners, the Blues took control at the start of the second half.
Winger Etherington was due to have an X-ray on a shoulder injury after leaving the field in obvious pain while Delap suffered a recurrence of a hamstring problem.
One major positive for Pulis, though, was the performance of centre-back Jonathan Woodgate on his Premier League debut for the club.