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Premier League

Andre Villas-Boas wary of possible Jose Mourinho return


Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas today admitted he and every top Barclays Premier League manager would be looking over their shoulders if Jose Mourinho left Real Madrid this summer.

Villas-Boas was relaxed about a report suggesting Mourinho would be interested in returning to Stamford Bridge were the self-styled 'Special One' to cut his ties with the Spanish giants.

The Blues manager acknowledged speculation over his own position would be rife if Mourinho became available but insisted the same would apply to the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson, Roberto Mancini, Harry Redknapp, Kenny Dalglish and Arsene Wenger.

Villas-Boas, who worked under Mourinho at Porto, Chelsea and Inter Milan, said: "At the moment, there is not a vacancy at this club, that is the most important thing. And the Real Madrid manager is not available at the moment. He's tied to the best club in the world.

"The only thing I can say is that I have lived Jose's availability when we were out of Chelsea and we know and I know how many clubs came knocking on our doors.

"So, a manager of Jose's dimension and the number one in the world will always be an attractive target for whatever club."

Mourinho has made no secret of his desire to return to England one day.

Villas-Boas added: "Because he's a manager that makes himself available to return to his beloved England will for sure capture the interests of City, United and Chelsea and Tottenham and Liverpool and Arsenal, and so on and so forth.

"So, in that sense, we are all under pressure, from Mancini to Ferguson to me to Dalglish to Harry Redknapp and so on."

Villas-Boas appears under more pressure than most, with Chelsea 12 points behind league leaders Manchester City and Manchester United.

The Blues have a chance to cut the gap to United when the sides meet at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

However, they will be without half their first-choice defence, with Ashley Cole suspended and John Terry ruled out injured on the same day he was stripped of the England captaincy.

"First, we cannot be crying out," Villas-Boas said.

"Man United will miss players for sure, important players.

"We have important players out as well but we have a very big squad, which enables us to go on and try to win the game and approach it in a positive way.

"So that's what we'll try to do, whoever is involved."

Villas-Boas admitted the loss of Terry was a blow, saying: "He is the captain, leader, on the pitch and off the pitch and he's a great player, so we'll miss him, of course."

But he played down the significance of being without left-back Cole for the first time in 65 league games.

Ryan Bertrand and Jose Bosingwa are vying to replace him and Villas-Boas said: "We have full trust in Ryan's abilities. It's a game of massive importance based on recent results and the fact that we have Man United, the champions, at home.

"Difficult decision to be made tomorrow when we practice strategically for the game."

Villas-Boas must also decide whether to hand Gary Cahill his debut and whether to risk Frank Lampard, who has missed the last two matches with a calf problem and did not train yesterday.

He said: "Lamps has a chance to make it to the game. Again, reassessment tomorrow to make a final decision."

Villas-Boas admitted he was still smarting from September's controversial defeat at Old Trafford, his first league loss as a manager for almost a year and a half.

"I try to forget it but I can't," he said of the game where United scored two goals that should have been ruled out for offside.

Until that game, Chelsea were considered genuine title contenders but they have slipped alarmingly off the pace since and Villas-Boas insisted a victory on Sunday would mean as little as December's triumph over City if they failed to build on it.

He said of the consequences of a win: "Good maybe in the immediate (sense) but maybe a false message regarding the future. The future has to be continuity.

"After Man City, we went to seven points behind and we didn't find that continuity that would've taken us closer to the leaders.

"So it can have an extra importance only if you manage to get the continuity after that."