Villas-Boas urges Stamford Bridge support to keep faith

Chelsea 2 West Bromwich Albion 1
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The Independent Online

A less than convincing display at Stoke and a fitful, nerve-ridden performance against West Bromwich Albion. Just wait until the big battalions are on Chelsea's radar and then measure the soaring pulse of Andre Villas-Boas.

The Portuguese lives every kick, pass and tackle at high intensity and afterwards used words like "anxiety", "emotion" and "pressure" to explain why last season's runners-up took so long to exert a narrow supremacy over Roy Hodgson's men.

Villas-Boas vividly demonstrated his burning desire to win and the supporters will love him for the passion that manifested itself on the final whistle with an exuberant punch of the air and a roar of delight. A bulging trophy cabinet has not quenched their thirst for more success but he is keen for the fans to understand how enthusiasm can work against the team.

The jeers that assailed manager and players at the end of the first half was nothing new, Villas-Boas pointing out that he had the same at Porto in a season which ended with four trophies. "It's just a natural reaction from a demanding public," he added. "What I would say is that empathy can be decisive because you have to put your opponents under pressure and you do that by raising your voices and supporting your team.

"In our game we need support and tranquillity. We suffered a goal in the fourth minute and people need to be behind us all the time. [It's understandable] the anxiety and demands of the public regarding what happened last year and the demands that they want from this year. We want to respond to those demands and we want to be champions."

Chelsea were punished for a casual start when Jose Bosingwa rolled a lazy pass to Alex, whose tardy reaction allowed Shane Long to score for the second successive game following his £6m move from Reading.

Juan Mata is likely to complete a £26m move from Valencia to Stamford Bridge this week and his pacy wing skills have long represented a yawning gap on the club's talent roster. The struggle to break down Albion's spirit and organisation also underlined why the pursuit of Luka Modric continues.

Villas-Boas was decisive on the touchline, removing Salomon Kalou for Florent Malouda before the break and Fernando Torres for Didier Drogba on the hour. Just before Drogba's arrival, Nicolas Anelka had struck an equaliser and serious questions were at last being asked of Albion's rearguard.

Nevertheless, Malouda's killer punch following Bosingwa's immaculate run and pinpoint delivery was harsh on Albion, who surrendered an 81st-minute winner to Manchester United six days before. "We've given last season's top two a run for their money in the opening two games – and even a little bit of a fright," Hodgson said. "But you get punished at the very highest level for errors you make."

* Valencia confirmed last night that they had agreed a deal with Chelsea for the transfer of in-demand winger Juan Mata

Scorers: Chelsea Anelka 53, Malouda 83. West Bromwich Albion Long 4.

Subs:

Chelsea Malouda 7 (Kalou, 35), Drogba 6 (Torres , 59), Ivanovic 6 (Alex, 66).

WBA Odemwingie 6 (Tchoyi, 75), Dorrans (Mulumbu, 87).

Booked: Chelsea Terry, Lampard. WBA Olsson, Tamas, Odemwingie, Mulumbu.

Man of the match Anelka.

Referee L Mason (Lancashire). Att 41,091.

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