Villas-Boas loses cool as Chelsea feel pressure ahead of City showdown
Angry Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas delivered an extraordinary outburst against the club's critics yesterday, with particular vitriol reserved for Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville and Newcastle manager Alan Pardew.
After claiming in the aftermath of the Champions League victory against Valencia on Tuesday that his side were being subjected to "continuous persecution," the Portuguese manager was in even more combative mood at his press conference at the club's training ground in Cobham, branding Neville "ridiculous" and warning him to "be careful."
In a season of increasingly colourful performances in front of the media, yesterday's was perhaps the most dramatic yet.
His voice raised, his hand thudding against the table as he attempted to get his point across, Villas-Boas also responded angrily to Pardew's comments about David Luiz after last Saturday's 3-0 win at St James' Park.
But he was most withering in his treatment of Neville, following the pundit's description of Brazilian defender Luiz as playing as if "being controlled by a 10-year-old playing on his PlayStation" during Sky's coverage of Chelsea's game against Liverpool last month.
Villas-Boas said Neville should have more respect for Brazil's rich football history.
"You cannot approach a top Brazil central defender, saying he's commanded by a kid with a Playstation," he said. "This is ridiculous. This guy plays for Brazil, the team with the most titles in the world. Be careful with what you're saying. You have to agree. You cannot be a top English defender like Gary Neville has been -- and this is fair, I can say this to him face-to-face with pleasure -- but when you take the ridiculous route, I have to defend."
Villas-Boas attacked the supposed partiality of certain ex-players now working in the media, with tacit reference to Neville and Alan Hansen, whom he has previously subjected to criticism.
"We know that most of these people have a direct past related to a single club, which are their favourite clubs, which in the end brings a likely biased position in their opinion-making."
Villas-Boas also took issue with Neville's comment on Sky before the game against Valencia that he would "not want to be in the Chelsea dressing room."
"What does Gary Neville know about Chelsea's dressing room?" Villas-Boas stormed. "What do you know? Have you been here? Do you know where Cobham is? You don't even know how to arrive here."
Villas-Boas's ire towards Pardew was inspired by the Newcastle manager's insistence Luiz should have been sent off for a challenge on Demba Ba early in the game last weekend.
Pardew also said Luiz had contributed to his side's current injury crisis, with Newcastle suffering injuries to Danny Guthrie and Steven Taylor as Chelsea, in Pardew's words, "put in more effort than we've done in any other game this season."
By this stage, Villas-Boas was almost shouting.
"Alan Pardew made a big scandal out of it, but the guy is offside," he said. "This is a manager making a big scandal, saying that we got their player injured because David Luiz wasn't sent off. Come on!"
Villas-Boas also reiterated his belief that the media was pursuing a pro-Manchester City agenda.
Defeat against Manchester City on Monday would put Chelsea 13 points behind the Premier League leaders, a gap that Villas-Boas admitted would all but rule his side out of the title race.
"If they get the win, they will come out almost with the assurance that their title challenge has one team less. There is no quitting. But 13 points would be a massive gap." (© Daily Telegraph, London)