AVB says Abramovich backing ‘project’

Andre Villas-Boas yesterday insisted it did not matter if some of Chelsea’s players had turned against him because he still had the backing of the only man who matters.

Blues boss Villas-Boas admitted yesterday that members of his squad had lost faith in his Stamford Bridge project, claiming it was “normal” for certain individuals not to be fully behind their manager.

But the Portuguese was confident he retained the “full trust” of Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, amid ever increasing speculation over whether Chelsea’s billionaire owner was considering sacking him.

That reached fever pitch this week following reports Villas-Boas had been openly challenged by some of his players during a team meeting on Sunday.

The 34-year-old hauled his underperforming squad in on their day off in response to the previous afternoon’s Premier League defeat at Everton, a performance he branded their worst of the season.

Villas-Boas yesterday denied there had been a row during the meeting or that anyone had criticised his tactics or team selection, but asked whether all of his players backed his project, he said: “They don’t have to back my project. It’s the owner who backs my project.”

Pressed further on whether certain individuals were against the changes he was making, he said: “That is normal.”

There have been reports senior stars want Abramovich to send an SOS to Guus Hiddink to rescue Chelsea’s season, which the Dutchman did three years ago when Luiz Felipe Scolari was sacked.

But despite the club being in a worse position now — fifth in the Premier League — than they were then, Villas-Boas was confident his own job was under no more threat this week than last.

“I don’t think so, but it’s a question that you will have to ask the owner,” he said ahead of tomorrow’s FA Cup clash with Birmingham and Champions League last-16 first leg at Napoli.

“I think the owner has full trust in me and will continue to progress with the ideas that we have.

“In the end, that is the objective, of getting us the best position possible in the league, plus these two trophies.”

Searingly honest team meetings are far from uncommon at Chelsea and, two years ago, a post-mortem into the club’s Champions League defeat against Inter Milan was followed by their first ever double.

Villas-Boas may need a similar reaction from his players to continue the job of revamping an ageing squad beyond this season.

“If you are able to gain strength from these situations, maybe you could go on to a run of good results,” he said.

“We have, I think, a good run of games to show our qualities.

“We need actions more than anything.”

Villas-Boas also reiterated he had no issue with Abramovich’s recent presence at the club’s training ground or in the Stamford Bridge dressing room.

“I think the owner is entitled to do whatever he wants,” he said.

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