Roman demands answers over Villas-Boas's line-up - European - Football - The Independent

Roman demands answers over Villas-Boas's line-up

Pressure mounts as Chelsea owner asks why Lampard and Cole were left out

Andre Villas-Boas was asked to provide an explanation of his unexpected team selection to Roman Abramovich in the wake of Chelsea's 3-1 Champions League defeat to Napoli on Tuesday night.

Villas-Boas met with Michael Emenalo, the club's technical director, as part of the inquest into the 3-1 defeat that left the Premier League club facing a daunting challenge in the second leg at Stamford Bridge if they are to qualify for the quarter-finals of the competition.

Abramovich, the Chelsea owner, wasn't present at Stadio San Paolo to witness the latest disappointing result in a run that has seen Villas-Boas' team drop out of the top four of the Premier League and be held at home in the FA Cup by Birmingham City – all played out against a backdrop of reports of growing player discontent.

He has, however, become a more visible figure at the club this month, becoming a regular visitor at the club's Cobham training ground and speaking to both manager and players in the wake of the recent Premier League defeat at Everton that prompted Villas-Boas to call his squad in for extra training the following day. And the manager acknowledged the questions posed by Emenalo about the game and the manager's decision to name experienced players such as Ashley Cole and Frank Lampard among his substitutes came directly from the owner himself, confirming the level of scrutiny being applied by his employer.

"He is disappointed about the result and asking questions about how we set up the team and they were duly explained," said the manager. "Again, we shared ideas regarding what happened in the game but we still have 90 minutes to play and we strongly believe we can turn the tie around."

Asked who was posing the questions, Villas-Boas said: "The owner." Adding: "I spoke to the people close to the owner to transmit the message, people like Emenalo. That is the normal way we communicate. I see it as normal. He just wants to know the thought process."

The owner's track record of impatience means focus has been trained on Villas-Boas' position, particularly as the Portuguese is the only one of the seven managers employed by Abramovich to enjoy a win rate of less than 50 per cent.

Villas-Boas, though, maintained yesterday he retains the full backing of his employer, dismissing reports Rafael Benitez had been lined up to replace him, later denied by Benitez's agent and Chelsea, by claiming he would like to go for dinner with the Liverpool manager. "My assurance is my work and his [Abramovich's] words and my project for the following seasons. I don't ask every day on the phone 'am I going to be here tomorrow?'"

And while he admits to making some mistakes since succeeding Carlo Ancelotti, the manager refuses to count his team selection in Naples as one of them. "No, I don't have any regrets regarding team selection," he said. "I did the best for the team and it was the selection I felt was completely right."

Anything less than victory against Bolton at home tomorrow will only add to the pressure on a manager who faces his most difficult period of the season without his injured captain and with question marks over his relationship with at least two other senior players.

Villas-Boas maintains he remains on good terms with Lampard and Cole whilst admitting they were less than happy at being omitted from the starting line-up but conceded the loss of John Terry for at least six weeks with a knee problem couldn't have come at a worse time. "We badly miss him. It is a massive loss. A leader and a great performer even through adversity."

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
property
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
The programme sees four specialists creating what they believe are three perfect couples, based on scientific matchmaking. The couples will not meet until they walk down the aisle together
tvUK wedding show jilted
Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Sport
Mikel Arteta pictured during Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal
champions league
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke and Pharell Williams in the video of the song, which has been accused of justifying rape
music...and he had 'almost no part' in writing it
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week