Football Football

AVB defiant after home defeat


LONDON, England 21 – Andre Villas-Boas has rejected suggestions that his position as Chelsea manager is under threat and insisted he has the full backing of owner Roman Abramovich despite Sunday’s 2-1 defeat by Liverpool.

The loss was Chelsea’s second in as many Premier League matches at their Stamford Bridge home.

It left the London club fourth in the table, 12 points behind leaders Manchester City, and already facing a daunting challenge if they are to force their way back into the title race.

Chelsea’s disappointing start to the campaign has prompted reports Abramovich is starting to question his decision to appoint the 33-year-old Villas-Boas as Carlo Ancelotti’s successor before the start of the season.

But Villas-Boas was adamant the Russian billionaire is fully committed to the manager’s long term plans for the club.

“I think it’s not a question of the owner having patience,” said Villas-Boas.

“We have set out to build something new at this club and the club is committed to taking what we’re building to the future.

“The owner didn’t pay 15 million euros (£13 million, $20 million) to get me out of Porto to pay me another fortune to get out.

“Our commitment is towards the club and what we are doing in the future,” he added. “We have enough talent to compete in all competitions, and that’s the perspective we take at the moment.”

But despite acknowledging he is building for the future, the Portuguese manager refused to label the current campaign as a season of transition and was determined to maintain a challenge on all fronts.

“With the dimension of our club, you cannot forget that your fans expect you to win titles,” he said. “We have to respond to the confidence of the fans. There’s no running away from responsibilities.

“There’s no calling this a transitional period. We’re not calling for time to work. Our responsibility is to win trophies. We’re in four still, and we still have the possibility to win them,” he added ahead of Chelsea’s midweek Champions League clash against German side Bayer Leverkusen.

Maxi Rodriguez gave Liverpool a first half lead but Chelsea appeared to have done enough to claim a point through Daniel Sturrdge’s 55th minute equaliser before Blues old boy Glen Johnson clinched the points three minutes from time.

Chelsea’s display was marred by defensive mistakes but Villas-Boas backed David Luiz, who was described by Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville, the former Manchester United and England full-back, as playing as though he was operated by a 10-year-old on a PlayStation video game console.

“Gary was a fantastic defender and I have nothing to say about his opinion. It’s a stupid approach to an opinion, but if that’s the way he wants to take the game, that’s ridiculous.”

Last season, Villas-Boas led Porto to the domestic double and the Europa League title before being brought in by Chelsea after they sacked Carlo Ancelotti.

And Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish said talk of Villas-Boas’s impending exit from Stamford Bridge was absurd.

“No-one in the football profession will be questioning him,” Dalglish said. “I don’t know the lad, but he had a fantastic CV at Porto.

“I don’t know what the criticism will be, but there’s huge respect for him in the football profession.”

Meanwhile Dalglish, whose Liverpool team are now unbeaten in nine games, was delighted by his side’s character.

“We wanted to win the game and Glen Johnson’s gone up into their box after 87 minutes. A right full-back. That shows the commitment. We’re happy with how we played and delighted with the three points.”

Liverpool’s preparations had been overshadowed by the death from leukaemia of Luca Jones, the five-year-old son of Australian reserve keeper Brad Jones.

“We’d never use Brad’s misfortune (as motivation). We all dread to think what the boy’s gone through. He knows everyone at the club is thinking of him and are sympathetic with him,” Dalglish.