It's time to start praying, Andre! AVB on the brink as Drogba takes over team talk
Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas
reacted angrily to claims that Didier Drogba had conducted
the half-time team talk in the tunnel as the FA Cup draw with
Birmingham appeared to leave the Portuguese manager praying for his job.
Under-pressure Villas-Boas dismissed
the suggestion that Drogba had taken over the task of motivating his
team-mates as they trailed the Championship side after a woeful
Hand of Drog: Didier Drogba speaks to Chelsea players in the tunnel at half-time
Asked about Drogba's role, Villas-Boas showed the first signs of strain after weeks of negative publicity.
'That is ridiculous,' he snapped. 'It makes no sense at all.'
Time to pray: Chelsea boss Andre Villas Boas
He was not pacified by the explanation of the Chelsea spokesman sitting next to him, who suggested that reporters from match broadcaster ESPN, who had made the claim, had simply seen Drogba talking to team-mates in the tunnel.
'I've just given an interview to ESPN and I wouldn't have done so had I known that was the case,' said Villas-Boas.
Drogba, one of Chelsea's senior
players and an influential voice, was alleged to have given a team talk
as he prepared to replace 50million striker Fernando Torres, who was
substituted at half-time and sat out the rest of the 1-1 draw in the
Drogba's words had any effect or not, Chelsea did manage to cling on to
a place in the cup when Daniel Sturridge's second-half goal levelled
the score after David Murphy's close-range opener gave Birmingham hope
of an upset.
But Villas-Boas admitted: 'It's never good when you draw at home with a Championship team. It's a poor result.'
Centre of attention: Is Drogba calling the shots at Chelsea
The manager, who has endured talk of dressing-room unrest in what has been a miserable two weeks for the club, defended his decision to replace Torres at half-time.
But Villas-Boas did admit: 'He didn't take it lightly.'
Chelsea fans showed their displeasure at the end, booing loudly, but Villas-Boas refused to condemn them, saying: 'I will never criticise the fans' reaction.'
Former England star John Barnes, a pundit for ESPN, gave a scathing verdict on Chelsea's performance.
Disappointing: Fernando Torres was unhappy to be subbed
'They didn't play with any creativity at all,' he said. 'They don't have a team philosophy.'
Villas-Boas insisted his authority at the club remains intact, claiming to have the 'unconditional' backing of club owner Roman Abramovich.
But asked whether a serious Champions League reverse at Napoli on Tuesday could end his Chelsea tenure, Villas-Boas replied: 'It is not up to me to decide that, you have to ask that to the right person.'