Andre Villas-Boas insists he has backing of Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich


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The Independent Football

Andre Villas-Boas today insisted he retained the complete backing of Roman Abramovich and Chelsea's players, despite his nightmare start to life at Stamford Bridge.

Villas-Boas shrugged off the mounting pressure on him following the Blues' worst beginning to a campaign since Abramovich bought the club eight years ago.

Speculation is rife Villas-Boas could be sacked if he fails to arrest a slump that has seen Chelsea slide out of the Barclays Premier League top four and in danger of failing to reach the last 16 of the Champions League.

There have also been reports of player unrest at the tactical changes made by the 34-year-old, who was tasked by Abramovich with getting the club to play more like Barcelona.

Villas-Boas confirmed he had spoken to the Russian billionaire since Wednesday night's last gasp Champions League defeat at Bayer Leverkusen, revealing he had been given his boss' full support.

Asked if Abramovich had promised to give him time to turn things around, he said simply: "Yes."

Villas-Boas refused to go into more detail about their conversation but added: "Everybody wants to get out of a situation like this."

The Portuguese had appeared drained after Wednesday night's defeat but looked confident and relaxed today under the watchful eye of chairman Bruce Buck, who made a surprise appearance at the club's press conference to preview tomorrow's game against Wolves.

Villas-Boas even joked he had not expected to see himself on the back pages of newspapers this morning, despite the mounting pressure on him.

But events took a more serious turn when he denied reports of angry exchanges during meeting of players and staff yesterday.

"Not critical meetings, no animosity, not insults here and there, no critique whatsoever regarding what we are doing, no doubts whatsoever regarding what we are doing," he said.

"Self-confidence and self-belief is what we need now and everybody wants to get it.

"That thing only comes with wins."

He added: "The philosophy will be the last thing to die at this club.

"It's a thing that makes technical staff and players very, very proud."

Villas-Boas also rubbished suggestions his lack of experience necessitated the appointment of an older coach to work alongside him, such as Guus Hiddink.

"I don't agree with that," he said, insisting he and his current staff would solve Chelsea's problems.

"I don't solve problems on my own. I solve them with my group of people and my group of players.

"I'm not a religious person, so I just hold on to my self-belief and the belief in my players' talents."

Chelsea's mental strength was also questioned this week by former midfielder Michael Ballack.

Villas-Boas said; "Michael is always very self-opinionated.

"I disagree with him. He doesn't live in this dressing room.

"He used to live here before and he didn't solve all the problems before."

Asked what he thought had gone wrong in what had been a run of four defeats from seven games, Villas-Boas said: "When you are hyped up emotionally and when you have more confidence, things go better for you.

"A negative streak of results can be explained by emotional states and it could be just that.

"So we need to find the right emotional stimulus, plus the right balance in terms of what we do to get the results that we want.

"It could be just around the corner."

Three of those defeats all came late on in matches and Villas-Boas added: "There is the so-called Fergie time and Man United seems very successful in making the most out of that time.

"In football, you just have to get the focus right in those last minutes."

The Portuguese admitted Chelsea were in a "life and death" situation in the Champions League and the same could be said about their Premier League challenge.

Failure to beat Wolves could see them drop to seventh place by the end of this weekend, although victory might send them as high as third.

"Every game gives you an opportunity to get back on track and that's exactly our focus," said Villas-Boas of a game in which he will be under more scrutiny than ever.

But he added: "The spotlight is something I that I don't think is disturbing to me.

"It doesn't disturb me whatsoever.

"It's not about me as an individual, it's about my group of players and this football club."