Things can only get worse: AVB's rallying cry

Chelsea fans look away now. Manager says 'we can go further down' and expect a trophy drought

Andre Villas-Boas's position is already under intense scrutiny but the manager has warned the period of transition he is attempting to introduce at Chelsea means things could get worse before they get better at Stamford Bridge.

Villas-Boas's immediate job is to revive a campaign that is in danger of falling apart, with his side outside the Premier League top four and in danger of exiting the FA Cup and Champions League.

The manager, though, has always insisted his task is to implement long-term changes to a playing staff and style while maintaining competitiveness. Recent performances, played out against a backdrop of conflict between the manager and key dressing-room figures – notably, Ashley Cole and Frank Lampard – suggest not everything is going to plan, and the manager's decision to highlight Milan's four-year period without a trophy as an example of the consequences of change will do little to dilute the sense of impatience around the club.

Villas-Boas restated his commitment to do things his way with his team selection in Naples in midweek. Cole, a critic of the manager's tactics following the recent defeat at Everton, was left on the bench along with other senior players including Lampard and Michael Essien, and the manager has made it clear that he will attempt to move on anyone he believes stands in the way of change.

"It is normal, I think, to expect resistance and disappointment," Villas-Boas said yesterday. "But first there must always be a sense of responsibility to the employer. To avoid the change or being part of it the players have to continue to perform, either you continue to perform or you stop performing and you become part of the change. It is normal. The players have been excellent in accepting this as part of a job that needs to be done.

"There is an understanding it is needed. A lot of clubs have gone through it in the past. Milan went four years without a trophy to go through a major cycle of change. But I think it's perfectly normal. I think our battle is the results, the negative results. When you go through a run like this you try to look into everything and you continue to solve things but football is very chaotic. If the penalty against Birmingham [in the FA Cup fifth-round tie last Saturday] goes in we know we can win, but we draw, and that makes things harder."

Villas-Boas may feel luck has deserted him but he remains convinced Roman Abramovich, the club's owner, backs him, despite continued links with former Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez.

Abramovich's support for previous managers could hardly be described as unwavering, and will be tested if, as the Portuguese suggests, the battle to finish fourth does not run smoothly.

Victory over Bolton at Stamford Bridge today will move Chelsea ahead of Arsenal and back into a Champions League spot, but the positions could be reversed if Arsène Wenger's side beat Tottenham in tomorrow's north London derby. After the last round of league matches, Villas-Boas has prepared the ground for further disappointment.

"If Arsenal hadn't scored in the last minute with a player who has already gone back to the US [Thierry Henry], we'd be fourth," said the Chelsea manager. "The fact we went fifth changes opinion. Things can further go down still and I need to prepare you guys for that. Still go further down because of the fact it is so tight in the battle for fourth place. A win will give us further belief. If we win and Arsenal win we will stay fifth but be closer to third, seven points behind Tottenham. So that is an extra stimulus, extra motivation before that Tottenham game we have to come."

If the coming three weeks deliver the results Villas-Boas wants, his plea for more time will receive a more sympathetic hearing from the Chelsea hierarchy. If not, his long-term plans may count for nothing. "We are in a hurry for everything and this sense of urgency and emergency does not respect time," he said. "Sometimes it is needed. I think there is full understanding of the owner in that sense. What would a managerial change add to this situation?"

The manager's team selection will be closely examined but it seems unlikely there will be a recall for Fernando Torres. The striker's shattered confidence received another blow yesterday when he was omitted from the Spain squad to face Venezuela after failing to score since last October. "He is a lad we appreciate a great deal and it pains me to leave him out but I wanted to be fair," said Spain coach, Vicente del Bosque.

Arts & Entertainment
Ricky Gervais at a screening of 'Muppets Most Wanted' in London last month
tvAs the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian on why he'll never bow to critics who habitually circle his work
Arts & Entertainment
Don (John Hamm) and Megan (Jessica Paré) Draper are going their separate ways in the final series of ‘Mad Men’
tvReview: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
News
news
Life & Style
Going down: Google's ambition to build an elevator into space isn't likely to be fulfilled any time soon
techTechnology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
News
David Cameron sings a hymn during the enthronement service of The Most Rev Justin Welby as Archbishop of Canterbury, at Canterbury Cathedral last year
news
Life & Style
From long to Jong: Guy Pewsey outside Mo Nabbach’s M&M Hair Academy in west London before the haircut
fashionThe Independent heads to an Ealing hairdressers to try out the North Korean dictator's trademark do
Sport
Vito Mannone fails to keep out Samir Nasri's late strike
sportMan City 2 Sunderland 2: Keeper flaps at Nasri's late leveller, but Black Cat striker's two goals in 10 minutes had already done damage
Extras
indybest10 best smartphones
News
peopleRyan Gosling says yes, science says no. Take the A-list facial hair challenge
Arts & Entertainment
tvCreator Vince Gilligan sheds light on alternate endings
News
Paul Weller, aka the Modfather, performing at last year’s Isle of Wight Festival in Newport
people
Life & Style
Michael Acton Smith founded Firebox straight out of university before creating Moshi Monsters
techHe started out selling silliness with online retailer Firebox, before launching virtual creatures who took the real world by storm
News
Ethical matters: pupils during a philosophy lesson
educationTaunton School's policy of putting philosophy at heart of its curriculum is one of secrets of its success
Arts & Entertainment
Play It Forward: the DC Record Fair in Washington, US
musicIndependent music shops can offer a tempting alternative to downloads on Record Store Day
Sport
video
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics

Is sexual harassment a fact of gay life?

Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics
Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith: The man behind a British success story

Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith

Acton Smith launched a world of virtual creatures who took the real world by storm
Kim Jong-un's haircut: The Independent heads to Ealing to try out the dictator's do

Our journalist tries out Kim Jong-un's haircut

The North Korean embassy in London complained when M&M Hair Academy used Kim Jong-un's image in the window. Curious, Guy Pewsey heads to the hair salon and surrenders to the clippers
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part
Vespa rides on with launch of Primavera: Iconic Italian scooter still revving up millions of sales

Vespa rides on with launch of the Primavera

The Vespa has been a style icon since the 1950s and the release this month of its latest model confirms it has lost little of its lustre
Record Store Day: Independent music shops can offer a tempting alternative to downloads

Record Store Day celebrates independent music shops

This Saturday sees a host of events around the country to champion the sellers of well-grooved wax
Taunton's policy of putting philosophy at heart of its curriculum is one of secrets of its success

Education: Secret of Taunton's success

Taunton School, in Somerset, is one of the country's leading independent schools, says Richard Garner
10 best smartphones

10 best smartphones

With a number of new smartphones on the market, we round up the best around, including some more established models
Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

The former Australia coach on why England must keep to Plan A, about his shock at their collapse Down Under, why he sent players home from India and the agonies of losing his job
Homelessness: Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Zubairi Sentongo swapped poverty in Uganda for homelessness in Britain. But a YMCA scheme connected him with a couple offering warmth and shelter
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park
The pain of IVF

The pain of IVF

As an Italian woman vows to keep the babies from someone else’s eggs, Julian Baggini ponders how the reality of childbirth is often messier than the natural ideal