Villas-Boas registers 'official' complaint
Andre Villas-Boas' frustration at Chelsea's 3-1 defeat to Manchester United surfaced yesterday with the manager rounding on the match officials for a "poor performance" and failing "to do their jobs properly."
He has made his annoyance known in a phone call to Mike Riley, the general secretary of the Professional Game Match Officials, the man who oversees the referees and has lodged an official complaint.
Villas-Boas was speaking ahead of tonight's Carling Cup third-round tie at home to Fulham for which he will make wholesale changes, fielding a young team, in a policy agreed with club owner Roman Abramovich. The likes of Romelu Lukaku, Josh McEachran, Oriol Romeu and Ryan Betrand are set to start, with Didier Drogba also a surprise participant -- possibly from the bench -- after recovering from concussion.
"From what the owner had told me it's a decision that he wants to promote talent and that is why we are taking this approach," Villas-Boas said.
"Don't get me wrong, there is still a responsibility for us to try and win the trophy because of the dimension of club that we are and because of the amount of talent at our disposal."
However, he declared that Chelsea would stick with the youngsters throughout the competition.
Inevitably his briefing was dominated by Sunday's events, and although Villas-Boas was at pains to stress that he didn't want his complaints "to be blown out of proportion" and detract from a "fantastic display," he was clearly irritated.
Villas-Boas highlighted United's first two goals, both scored by players in offside positions. Chris Smalling's header, the first, from a free-kick caused particular annoyance. "I cannot lose my time organising defensive set-plays for the referee to make a mistake like that," he said.
"I'm sorry, I don't take it lightly. You organise your team to defend a set-play, to be coherent, to hold the line -- and then it's not possible because the person responsible doesn't do his job."
The men who provoked his anger were referee Phil Dowd and his assistants Glenn Turner and Adam Watts, who Villas-Boas accused of having a "poor performance which in the end had a decisive role in the result".
"You expect the linesman to do his job," he added. "We all feel very, very down when the referee has such an impact on the result."
Five Premier League matches into his career in England and Villas-Boas has now complained at the officiating at two games -- last Sunday's and his first fixture away to Stoke City -- and although he is a very different beast to the man who first brought him to Chelsea, Jose Mourinho, there are flashes of his aggression.
Villas-Boas will be taking a different approach, however, to the Carling Cup. It was the first trophy that Mourinho won at the club and he always fielded a strong line-up. That has changed.
One of the players who will not feature tonight is Frank Lampard, but Villas-Boas mounted a staunch defence of the midfielder who was substituted at half-time at Old Trafford.
"He doesn't have anything to prove," he said. "He's a top player in the world, could add to any team in the world. Jose Mourinho wanted him with the teams he managed as well."
Asked whether, at 33, Lampard was capable of adapting his game, Villas-Boas was dismissive. "You are taking the question towards an age problem and a slowing problem and I completely disagree. Frank has played the 90 minutes in the games before to maximum intensity.
"He can play in different roles, but he has done that in the past.
"I would keep away from what the emphasis is or give a negative impact to the fact that he was substituted. There is no point."
He was also dismissive over questions about Fernando Torres after his glaring miss against United. "Everyone is strong and has the correct frame of mind," he said. (© Daily Telegraph, London)