Sunday 17 December 2017

I won't forgive myself if I don't win trophies here -- Villas-Boas

Jason Burt

Andre Villas-Boas, following a Portuguese tradition, took a birthday cake into Chelsea's training ground on Monday -- the day he turned 34 -- to share with players and staff, but it was the appetite for silverware that was pre-occupying the manager yesterday.

"There has to be a level of entertainment, yes," Villas-Boas said when discussing the "freedom" he wants to give his players with an attacking style. "But the trophy cabinet is something that is more visible.

"What is expected of me is to win trophies, particularly in a massive club like this one. I wouldn't forgive myself if I missed the opportunity to win major trophies at this club."

The immediate reply to that, of course, is that Roman Abramovich wouldn't forgive him either.

Villas-Boas, who collected a host of trophies at Porto last season, reiterated his desire to have a "short career" -- not being a manager beyond his mid-40s -- but it would be even shorter at Chelsea if titles were not won. Just ask Claudio Ranieri, Jose Mourinho, Avram Grant, Luiz Felipe Scolari and Carlo Ancelotti.

Villas-Boas knows this. His remit is clear. Win trophies -- the Champions League above all -- and try to emulate what he called the "benchmark of modern football" in terms of the attractive, progressive game they play in Barcelona. Simple. But then it's a challenge that a man as confident and self-possessed as Villas-Boas has embraced.

"I just want to have career I can be proud of, whenever it finishes," he said. "The time will come when I feel proud of what I have achieved and will leave my position."

Chelsea are progressing. Tonight they face Genk, the Belgian champions, albeit a team decimated by departures (indeed Chelsea weakened them dramatically by signing their goalkeeper, Thibault Courtois, who is regarded as Petr Cech's heir) and injuries knowing that a victory and a win in the return leg in a fortnight will secure passage from Group E with two ties to go.

Chelsea fans, with protests planned over ticket price rises and also the anger over the impending Chelsea Pitch Owners vote to sell the Stamford Bridge freehold back to the club, will also get a chance to see Kevin de Bruyne, who came close to joining in the summer.

Villas-Boas was full of praise yesterday for the 20 year-old and whether Chelsea return with a new offer remains to be seen, but de Bruyne is hopeful of a move.

The manager is likely to rotate tonight with the possibility of both John Terry and Frank Lampard being rested with Fernando Torres -- suspended in the Premier League -- returning. But Chelsea will be without the injured Ramires, who is also a doubt for Sunday's visit to QPR.

Chelsea are certainly in contention on all fronts and the manager identified the 2-1 win away to Sunderland, on September 10, as the game when he felt his message to the players was getting through.

"There's been receptiveness," he said. "The players all want to get back to winning ways in terms of titles. When the focus is on winning trophies people are more receptive to new ideas. Not all ideas are good. Most of them can be bad -- it's players' expression of talent that's coming across differently.

"But there's always room for improvement. All of these players want to be better players and will become better players."

Are they still hungry? "Yes, for sure," Villas-Boas said before allowing himself a moment of humour, referring to that birthday cake: "I tried to feed them well but they always want." But then Chelsea have always been a club who want to have their cake and eat it. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Chelsea v Genk,

Live, Sky Sports 2, 7.45

Irish Independent

Promoted Links

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport