Defend your badge or go! Villas-Boas issues warning to disgruntled Chelsea stars
Andre Villas-Boas admits the Chelsea players are not all behind him — but says the only man who matters is Roman Abramovich.
Villas-Boas insists he has total
backing from owner Abramovich to continue his transformation of the
club, despite poor results and discontent within the dressing room which
erupted into a row between players and staff on Sunday.
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Pointing the way: Andre Villas-Boas in training on Thursday
‘They don’t have to back my project,’ said the Chelsea manager. ‘It’s the owner who backs my project. My authority is total because it’s the owner’s authority. The owner has full trust in me and we will continue to progress with the ideas we have.’
When it was suggested that some players were not onside, Villas-Boas replied: ‘That is normal,’ and promised to make squad changes in the summer.
Abramovich spent much of last week at the club’s training ground, sampling the mood in the camp amid rumours that players were dissatisfied with the methods of the manager.
Such mutinous stirrings have been bad news for Chelsea bosses in the recent past. Luiz Felipe Scolari and Avram Grant were both ousted by powerful players who did not like their style.
Clear-the-air meetings have also been a feature of the club’s success and Villas-Boas says he likes to listen — but a rift seems to be opening.
Some senior players have even expressed concern about the approach to Saturday's FA Cup fifth-round tie against Birmingham.
Villas-Boas is reluctant to risk John Terry, Ashley Cole and Ramires, who have been injured, and has given Didier Drogba and Salomon Kalou extra time to rest after the Africa Cup of Nations. The FA Cup may be Chelsea’s best chance of winning a trophy but they face Napoli in the Champions League on Tuesday.
Struggles: Chelsea's star-studded squad are failing to deliver the goods
Watching closely: Roman Abramovich
Villas-Boas will be aware that
Abramovich’s trigger finger is twitchiest where Europe is concerned.
Performing well in the Champions League and qualifying for next year’s competition are his priorities.
Drogba and Kalou will be back for Napoli and Cole is given only a 50-50
chance by his manager. Ramires is fit and Terry is training but still
in pain from bone bruising on a knee.
Villas-Boas made it clear he expects players to give their all for the
club — even if they had problems with him — or they can leave. ‘We
defend this crest,’ said the manager, beating the lion on his blue
sweatshirt. ‘They pay us well and they don’t pay us to be a failure.
‘Players compete for their place in the team and their place in the
future. To be in the team you compete against your colleague.
‘We set out to win four trophies, believing in this team. Next year,
it’s another one because there are ongoing situations regarding
contracts. That means changes. Two players have already departed and
further players will depart in the future.’
Nicolas Anelka and Alex left in January after submitting transfer
requests and were frozen out by Villas-Boas. Drogba and Kalou are out of
contract in June and sure to leave.
Yesterday, Anelka, who joined Shanghai Shenhua, said: ‘I would like to
see Drogba join Shanghai Shenhua. I am frequently in contact with him
and I think Drogba should be joining us if all goes well.’
Florent Malouda is another who could leave and there are doubts over
others, including Frank Lampard and Fernando Torres. Lampard is only 21
goals behind Bobby Tambling’s club record of 202, which may persuade
him to see out the final year of his contract.
Whether Villas-Boas survives to make the decisions remains to be seen
but he claims at the moment to have a ‘perfect’ relationship with
‘He asks how we will improve and I have to put into perspective how we
plan to do that,’ said the manager. ‘Am I under pressure for the job
Not at all. I know I am under pressure for results but ultimately the
owner has to take that decision.’