James Lawton: Bellamy lifts Dalglish pressure and piles it on to Villas-Boas

The best Villas-Boas can hope for now is a little patience and understanding

If pressure seemed to be fairly evenly distributed, with Kenny Dalglish enduring at least as many worries as his young rival Andre Villas-Boas, it was only until Craig Bellamy reminded us that sometimes even the most quirkish of individuals can be well worth the trouble.

Bellamy not only gave Liverpool a massive injection of early bite and composure, he pushed Chelsea's already jumpy defence into the terrain of the nervous breakdown.

It meant that while Dalglish was provided with a workable antidote for those ripples of concern accompanying some humdrum performances at Anfield, Villas-Boas now has to deal with something a lot closer to a full-blown crisis.

Villas-Boas, understandably enough given his spectacular progress in the game, has shown no reluctance to talk the talk of an upwardly mobile young football man. Now, though, there is a different kind of obligation.

It is to provide some early, convincing evidence that a second straight defeat at Stamford Bridge – the first such convulsion since before the days of Jose Mourinho – is no more than the inevitable consequence of some major transition work. For much of this game that didn't look a lot more than some rather extravagantly wishful thinking.

Despite a much livelier second-half performance after a major tactical overhaul at half-time, Chelsea still looked like a team searching for a hard centre, a clear idea of what it was truly about. Daniel Sturridge fired in an equaliser with some poise and Pepe Reina was required to produce a superb save from Branislav Ivanovic, but when Chelsea poured forward too often it seemed a matter of chance and speculation.

Liverpool, away from the clamour and the expectations of Anfield, seemed rather more relaxed and, when it mattered, considerably more potent. Glen Johnson's winner was taken with brilliant aplomb and he was agreeably free from some of the stridency that tends to build when a big-name player finds himself out of the spotlight. Yes, he has had injury problems, and, yes, his England career has gone into fairly chilly storage, but here was a chance to remind everyone, not least his old club, that he was capable of some extremely polished performance.

Chelsea couldn't begin to complain. It is true they had most of the second-half momentum, but never to the point where Liverpool seemed likely to surrender totally that first edge created when Bellamy drove home some impressive early pressure with a one-two combination of such precise and unselfish judgement Chelsea could only slump against the ropes and await their fate.

Maxi Rodriguez converted Bellamy's second and most surgical ball deep in the Chelsea box and for a little while the expression of Villas-Boas's face spoke of more than a fleeting crisis.

He looked not a little like a man who had been handed the challenge of his short but so far brilliant football life, one who indeed might just have been contemplating the possibility that his owner, Roman Abramovich, is passing through a period of some doubt about his belief in a £13m managerial investment.

For a little while Chelsea did find the nerve to defy the ability of Liverpool to mount such easy and convincing pressure with the movement and imagination of Bellamy and his forward partner Luis Suarez. But with Charlie Adam and Lucas both helping to dispute the midfield with a growing relish, you had to wonder how much of that old swaggering self-belief is available to the anxious Villas-Boas.

In a perfect world Abramovich might been experiencing his own bout of self-doubt, a possibility provoked by Fernando Torres' latest delayed arrival in the heart of some vital action. Torres came on with Raul Meireles to bring the late promises of striking touch and a serious creative impulse, but like most of the others it died a swift and forlorn death.

Abramovich has, of course, been here a wearisome number of times. Rarely, though, can Stamford Bridge have been so gripped by a sense of narrowing horizons and insistent pressure. Manchester City, having so thoroughly outspent them, are now the team of ambition and growing certainties and the best Villas-Boas can hope for now is a little patience, a little understanding that making a new team, with new priorities, is something that takes a little longer than a few months. Perhaps a phone call to his old mentor Mourinho might not be a source of sure-fire reassurance, however. Perhaps he should also ignore any input from Big Phil Scolari or Carlo Ancelotti.

Patience is maybe the last desperate call in a place like Stamford Bridge. Certainly, the idea may have crossed Dalglish's mind when he produced a trademarked celebration at the moment of Johnson's winning strike. He may have a degree of pressure, but he knows all about it and its various degrees.

Euro-watch

Bayer Leverkusen host Chelsea on Wednesday having beaten Kaiserslautern 2-0 in the Bundesliga on Friday. Michael Ballack opened the scoring against his former side before Sidney Sam doubled the lead. Chelsea, two points clear of Leverkusen at the top of Group E, beat the Germans 2-0 in September.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Sport
John Terry, Frank Lampard
footballChelsea captain sends signed shirt to fan whose mum had died
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Rita Ora will replace Kylie Minogue as a judge on The Voice 2015
tv
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
life
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Tennis player Andy Murray's mum Judy has been paired with Anton du Beke for Strictly Come Dancing. 'I'm absolutely delighted,' she said.
tvJudy Murray 'struggling' to let Anton Du Beke take control on Strictly
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits