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Premier League

Former Andre Villas-Boas assistant backs Chelsea manager to succeed


Andre Villas-Boas today received more backing from former club Porto as speculation continued over the Chelsea boss' future.

Villas-Boas, whose bid to turn the Blues' season around was this week supported by Porto president Jorge Nuno Pinto da Costa, was given more words of encouragement this afternoon by the man who succeeded him at the Estadio do Dragao.

Vitor Pereira, who was Villas-Boas' assistant during Porto's record-breaking quadruple-winning season last year, is currently preparing his side for tomorrow night's Europa League last-32 first leg against Manchester City.

As well as previewing that game in his pre-match press conference today, Pereira also spoke about his predecessor's troubles at Chelsea, suggesting Villas-Boas needed to be given time to transform his new club's fortunes.

Pereira said: "Andre is a quality coach and will certainly, in time, prove his quality and competence."

Pereira's backing came as reports continued claiming some of Chelsea's players had lost faith with Villas-Boas.

It was suggested today that senior stars were hoping billionaire owner Roman Abramovich would once again send an SOS to Guus Hiddink to save the club's season, just as he did three years ago.


Chelsea have repeatedly maintained Villas-Boas' position is not under threat, while Hiddink's agent yesterday insisted his client would not comment on whether he would consider returning to Stamford Bridge unless a vacancy arose.

The Dutchman was certainly a popular figure among the players during a caretaker spell in 2009 that saw the club lose just one match and win the FA Cup.

Villas-Boas, on the other hand, was reportedly challenged openly by members of his squad during frank exchanges at the club's training ground on Sunday.

Former Chelsea boss Luiz Felipe Scolari suggested player power was one of the reasons he was sacked and replaced by Hiddink three years ago, while Pinto da Costa this week claimed Jose Mourinho's continued contact with his former stars was undermining Villas-Boas.

Abramovich has been far more reluctant to bow to any suggestion of dissent in the ranks since Villas-Boas took charge, giving the Portuguese the green light to revamp an ageing squad.

But the transition has proven a turbulent one and it remains to be seen if Abramovich will fire another manager if the Blues continue to look in danger of failing to qualify for the lucrative Champions League.

The Russian will also be expecting progress in the FA Cup on Saturday, when Chelsea host Birmingham, and it will not go down well if they fail to get past Napoli in the Champions League.

Meanwhile, captain John Terry should step up his comeback from a knee injury tomorrow but Ashley Cole remains a major doubt for this weekend's game with the calf problem that has left him unable to train since Saturday's Barclays Premier League defeat at Everton.