The rules regarding penalties have changed, according to Andre Villas-Boas.
The Chelsea manager is clearly still incensed by Howard Webb's decision to award Danny Welbeck a spot-kick at Stamford Bridge last Sunday, for contact with Branislav Ivanovic that was instigated by the Manchester United forward. Ahead of today's game at Everton, Villas-Boas jokingly suggested that a new rule had been introduced, allowing attackers to win penalties in this way.
"I think there must be a new rule set out," he said, "from two-footed tackles, now we have to set a new rule for a player standing out his leg on purpose against a defender, and clipping the defender on purpose to fall to win a penalty."
This was not just frustration. The Cheslea manager also cited the example of Adam Johnson, who last Saturday won a penalty for Manchester City against Fulham in almost precisely the same way as Welbeck. This, for Villas-Boas, pointed to a change.
"In the same weekend we had two incidents like that: from Adam Johnson and Welbeck," he said. "So that is a new rule for penalties: when the attacker purposefully sticks his foot out to dive for a penalty.
"If this action leads to a penalty, there must be a new rule set out for penalties to be given. Not only fouls from the defender; now it is attackers that have a right to get a penalty when they leave their foot out."
There was no moral condemnation, though, for those who profited. "I think the player in the end proves his smartness," Villas-Boas said. "Some people are called cheats and divers. Other ones are called smart. It depends on the perspective of the people making the opinion or reading the situation."
The manager would not promise to condemn any Chelsea players who benefited from this "change". "There are soft penalties, and there are penalties that shouldn't be given and sometimes you receive them," Villas-Boas said. "That is the reality."
While hoping that referees would adjust to the new reality, Villas-Boas conceded it was part of the changing game. "It's difficult to assess for sure," he said. "I think the game got faster. Decision-making in the end by refs is always difficult. I'm sure they are adapting to the different speed of the game."
Goodison Park, where Chelsea play today, is where Carlo Ancelotti was sacked at the end of last season. Frank Lampard is fit, and Ashley Cole is back from suspension.