Chelsea turn up the heat on manager

Villas-Boas knows defeat at Ewood Park would equal worst league run in 10 years.

It seems ludicrous, but 16 matches into his reign as Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas is already under pressure. A fourth league defeat in 11 matches at Ewood Park today, coupled with a victory for Manchester City at Loftus Road, would leave Chelsea 12 points adrift of Roberto Mancini's team. And that, it was made clear to the 34-year-old this week, is not good enough.

The manager's bright start has come to a shuddering halt in the last fortnight, thanks to domestic defeats to Queen's Park Rangers and Arsenal and a disappointing Champions League draw with Genk. Those three results may have been overshadowed by John Terry's alleged racist abuse of Anton Ferdinand, but they have not gone unnoticed by the club's owner, Roman Abramovich, or his lieutenants in west London. Defeat at Blackburn Rovers today would equal the club's worst league run for more than a decade.

Villas-Boas said on Thursday that in his recent conversations with Abramovich the owner had been "supportive" and was "happy" with the attacking football being played but, added Villas-Boas, "we don't avoid our responsibilities to winning titles. We will defend this philosophy to death, but what is expected of us is to win titles."

It is understood that message has been reiterated from the club's high command. Matches that end 5-3 are great, but Chelsea are supposed to be the team scoring five. Any suggestion that Villas-Boas is under pressure may seem to contradict chairman Bruce Buck's comment, last month, that the Portuguese is seen as having the potential to manage Chelsea for 15 years, but Buck said at the time that was only as long as he was winning trophies.

Yesterday Villas-Boas admitted victory at Blackburn today would not be enough. "I believe a win will put us back on track, but you need a good run of results," he said. Next month, he added, was critical. Chelsea play six league matches in 22 days from 12 December and Villas-Boas said: "In the Premier League there are too many points to be played in December. The time frame between games is short so you need almost two squads, and all the fixtures are Premier League. There are no other competitions to break your rhythm. It's a stress situation in terms of the Premier League fixture list. I think it'll be an important month."

Those comments have added significance with sources close to the club claiming Abramovich and his apparatchiks, though still supportive of Villas-Boas, are adamant the team must be in touching distance of the league leaders by the New Year. Before then Chelsea host a resurgent Liverpool – a fixture lost last season – as well as facing difficult trips to Newcastle United and Tottenham, plus the visit of Manchester City.

Villas-Boas insisted that there are no fundamental problems with his Chelsea team despite recent results and the lack of clean sheets.

"I think that when you go into a pattern like this in terms of results, the essence is questioned," he said. "Our essence is good at the moment. Our responsibilities are to win every game. When things don't go our way, we can't be happy, but there's a good spirit in the group. We create more opportunities than our opponents, but we're not finding the right efficiency. But you're not going to find that efficiency in training. That comes naturally with this quality of players. It will come. It will come."

Most observers believe that it will come against Blackburn Rovers, who are struggling and whose manager, Steve Kean, is under even greater pressure than Villas-Boas, but the latter was eager to dampen any such expectation.

"Blackburn have nothing to lose and, like QPR, they will play with a competitive attitude. Steve Kean has made some changes to his team to bring him benefit. [Ruben] Rochina and [Junior] Hoilett are looking sharp, and [Morten Gamst] Pedersen is playing well from central midfield. They can surprise everybody."

Which is exactly what Rovers will do should they add Chelsea's scalp to that of Arsenal.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
health
News
science
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
News
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
people
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
News
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Sport
football
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power