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Feb 18, 2012

AVB: Drogba didn't give half-time talk

Andre Villas-Boas insisted the support of Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is not based on his next few results, and refuted claims that Didier Drogba gave his own team-talk during the Blues' 1-1 draw with Birmingham in the FA Cup fifth round on Saturday.

Andre Villas-Boas: 'It was a poor result'

Villas-Boas, under pressure at Stamford Bridge with his team already out of the Premier League title race and struggling to finish in the top four, insisted during the week that he had the full support of Abramovich.

However, another poor result against Birmingham created further discontent among the home support, after Daniel Sturridge's equaliser was needed to cancel out David Murphy's opener. Asked if Abramovich's support was based on the next few results both domestically and in Europe - where Chelsea play Napoli in the Champions League on Tuesday - Villas-Boas stood defiant.

"It's unconditional," he told ESPN.

"A poor result of course. But it was an excellent second-half performance compared to the first. 1-1 is not to be expected against Birmingham but a draw gives us the chance to continue in the trophy.

"Set-plays, Birmingham have been very competent all season, we lost a man at the back post and they scored. It put us on the back foot, we had a strong reaction with the penalty, and if it had gone in it could have been a different story."

Villas-Boas introduced Drogba at half-time, and the Ivory Coast international appeared to give his men a pep-talk before they emerged for the second half. It was later suggested to Villas-Boas by sections of the media that Drogba had given his own team-talk, something that angered the Chelsea boss.

"This is ridiculous. Why would Didier be doing half-time team talks?" questioned the Portuguese. "It is ridiculous. I will not comment on this story. It is ridiculous.

"We needed a target man, to lay off the long balls and go more direct, so I made the change. I'm not concerned with Fernando Torres' physical form - not at all. Eventually a goal will give him extra mental stimulus and then he'll be a different player for sure.

"The desire was there, the ambition. Birmingham matched us in that sense, and the goal inspired them to a draw."

Birmingham boss Chris Hughton was pleased with his side's efforts against top-flight opponents and is not concerned about adding a replay to an already congested fixture list.

"We had to cope with a couple of things today, none more so than a very, very good Chelsea team," Hughton said.

"But for large parts of the game we were able to cope with their problems and have our own attacks.

"This is a changing room that wants to play games, this is an exciting time to play cup competitions against Premier League sides."

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