'We can't compete with City'– AVB risks Roman's wrath again

 

The Chelsea manager, Andre Villas-Boas, has risked further testing the patience of the club's owner, Roman Abramovich, by claiming his squad always lacked the quality to compete with Manchester City this season.

The 34-year-old, who is under increasing pressure, said that Chelsea were now in City's shadow when it came to signing the finest players in the transfer market.

Chelsea take on West Bromwich Albion today, trailing the Premier League leaders by 17 points and struggling to finish in the top four. While City have spent £360m on players over the past four years to turn themselves into title contenders, Chelsea have spent more than £300m for their current squad, breaking the British transfer record 14 months ago when they paid Liverpool £50m for Fernando Torres.

However, Villas-Boas feels he was at a disadvantage from the start this season. As he tried to explain why things have gone wrong for the club, he said that City had access to "the best players". When asked if he was not similarly blessed at Chelsea, he said: "Not to the extent City have, with their financial power. Maybe in the past we had it, but not in the sense of how it was applied this season. We have access to the best talent and we like to promote talent but I don't think that you can compare the two squads, to be fair. I think theirs is a lot better. It's a squad that was built. I don't know if their economic power has a direct influence on choice-making. People could have gone to City because of the project that was being built, the super-team being put together. As we know, the numbers being paid are top are extreme.

"When the top team has access to buy from their title rivals, you can build something extraordinary. We had it in the past and built something extraordinary. I think you can't expect Chelsea to buy from City and Manchester United [now]. Maybe Tottenham and Liverpool in the past. I think Chelsea is one of the most difficult jobs in the world, for sure. I'd never resign. It's not part of my education."

Villas-Boas also appeared to downplay the quality of Abramovich's £75m investment in January last year, which secured the defender David Luiz from Benfica as well as Torres from Anfield. He said: "One came from a team in title contention in Portugal, the other from a team competing for the top four in the league."

This all contrasted to earlier this season, when Villas-Boas maintained that his squad was good enough to win all four competitions they entered. But Chelsea have been out of the title race for months and were knocked out of the Carling Cup by Liverpool in the last eight.

They face an awkward FA Cup fifth-round replay at Birmingham on Tuesday and a very difficult second leg of their last-16 Champions League tie against Napoli a week later, when they will have to fight back from 3-1 down.

Asked why he thought his squad was no longer good enough to compete on all fronts, Villas-Boas said: "I haven't changed my mind. This squad has a responsibility to win four trophies, the same. But they [City] have a better squad, have more depth, with good players as well. We haven't had the results that we should have for the squad we have and in normal circumstances we would be ahead of Tottenham and Manchester United. We have been under-performing. But we can still improve for the rest of the season."

Statistically, Villas-Boas is the worst manager of the Abramovich era and his defence of Chelsea's failure to challenge for the title is bound to cause concern among the club's hierarchy, which is considered hiring another coach for the rest of the season.

This critique of the squad is just the latest in a series of odd public comments from Villas-Boas. Last month he said that it wasn't important for him to have his players' backing. Earlier this week he told a Portuguese radio station that he felt as vulnerable as Carlo Ancelotti was before the Italian was sacked last season, and he also compared Torres with Andriy Shevchenko and Mateja Kezman, two strikers who failed to impress at the club.

Last night Villas-Boas also said, surprisingly, that he would not try harder to improve his bond with the midfielder Frank Lampard, who complained that their relationship was not "ideal" following a 3-0 win over Bolton.

Villas-Boas said: "Will I talk to him about it? No. We are not married to each other. It's a manager-player relationship. I have to choose the team and choose the best team for every game. It hasn't involved Frank for a couple of times, but that doesn't mean I have a problem with him."

Chelsea have some good news – the strikers Didier Drogba and Daniel Sturridge are available after injury.

'Staying at the bridge is impossible'

Chelsea last night bowed to pressure to be more open about their stadium plans by releasing details of why they think it is unfeasible to redevelop Stamford Bridge.

The club had been accused by shareholders in the Chelsea Pitch Owners of not fully exploring the possibility of staying put before attempting to buy back the stadium freehold last October.

A club statement said: "It is clear to the board of Chelsea Football Club that a complete new build of a 60,000-seat stadium at Stamford Bridge has little chance of acceptability.

"A 60,000 new-build would cost over £600m and require the club to play away for at least three seasons and, even if the economics were acceptable, the planning risks would likely be insurmountable."

Life and Style
A monstrous idea? Body transplants might no longer be science fiction
Science An Italian neurosurgeon believes so - and it's not quite as implausible as it sounds, says Steve Connor
Sport
Demba Ba (right) celebrates after Besiktas win on penalties
footballThere was no happy return to the Ataturk Stadium, where the Reds famously won Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
arts + ents
News
Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
arts + ents
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The write stuff: masters of story-telling James Joyce, left, and Thomas Hardy
arts + ents...begging to differ, John Walsh can't even begin to number the ways
Sport
Jose Mourinho on Sky Sports
footballEXCLUSIVE COLUMN Paul Scholes: It was not a leg-breaking tackle, as the Chelsea manager had claimed
Caption competition
Caption competition
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

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower