Andre Villas-Boas plays it cool as Romelu Lukaku looks for revenge


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The Independent Football

When Andre Villas-Boas studies the West Bromwich Albion team sheet today, he will be only too aware that there is one player itching to prove a point to him. Romelu Lukaku.

The Belgian was Villas-Boas' first signing as Chelsea manager a year ago but despite the £18m price tag, Lukaku only made six Premier League appearances. The Portuguese's decision to favour Spain striker Fernando Torres and club legend Didier Drogba riled Lukaku to the point that he launched a stinging attack, saying he would "never forgive" the sacked coach for ostracising him at Stamford Bridge.

Now, though, the pair are at new clubs – Lukaku on loan at West Brom, Villas-Boas at Spurs – and they meet today after differing starts to the campaign. Nineteen-year-old Lu made a scoring start to life at The Hawthorns, while the man who snubbed him was beaten at Newcastle.

Villas-Boas appears to hold no grudge towards Lukaku for his outburst and says he has no regrets over how the forward was handled during his tenure.

"The decision that Lukaku departed [on loan] was not mine so I have nothing to say about it," said Villas-Boas.

"The player is obviously a player with tremendous talent that competed last year against two of the world's best players.

"Lukaku had frustrations last year that you can understand. It's up to him to compete and when you compete against Fernando Torres and Didier...

"We played last year with one striker and for Lukaku to have more playing time – which he would have been entitled to if I felt it was the right decision to do – but to compete with two of the world's best and the record of either two speaks for themselves.

"I think he is ready for the Premier League. I think he is, it's just that he didn't have enough time last year.

"Had he overtaken those two to be on team selection every weekend it would have been a tremendous achievement for a 19-year-old."