AVB asked to explain team selection
Under-fire Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas has been asked to explain his team selection for the 3-1 defeat to Napoli in midweek by owner Roman Abramovich.
However, Villas-Boas insists that he retains the full backing of Abramovich and denied reports of in-fighting within the Chelsea camp. In a press conference he also boldly predicted that his team could still win the Champions League and finish third in the Premier League despite there being only 13 top-flight games of the season remaining.
The club's technical director, Michael Emenalo, spoke to Villas-Boas to pass on the Russian billionaire's concerns.
"He [Abramovich] was disappointed with the result and asking questions about how we set up the team, which were duly explained," said the manager. "I spoke to the people close to the owner to transmit the message, people like Emenalo. That is the normal way we communicate. He just wanted to know the thought process. It was the selection I felt was right, so there are no regrets."
Chelsea's slump in form has cast doubt over his future and the £13.5 million summer recruit can understand Abramovich's queries.
"The problem is results lead you into doubt," said Villas-Boas. "Are you able to live with that climate of doubt and believe in the person or the project? Or do you think the person is not the right one?"
Villas-Boas hopes to embark upon a strong finish to the season - starting at home against Bolton on Saturday - but he candidly revealed that he thinks teams no longer fear coming to Stamford Bridge like they did under former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho.
''There is no fear factor at the Bridge,'' Villas-Boas said. ''I don't know if there ever was. There is a fear factor at a couple of grounds in this country - Anfield and Old Trafford. It was a difficult place to come under Jose Mourinho but there is no fear factor of emotion.''
The Portuguese added that he has no problem with Rafael Benitez despite claims the former Liverpool boss is being lined up to replace him.
Benitez's agent played down stories linking the Spaniard with Stamford Bridge as nothing but ''media speculation'', but the man himself is yet to come forward to publicly deny any interest in a move to London.
''It would be an honour for me (to meet him),'' the 34-year-old Chelsea boss said. ''I have no problem with that. We share a common friend but I have never met him.
''We were going to have dinner three or four months ago but we didn't. It would be fantastic to have dinner with him. He is one of the most successful managers in world football.''
Chelsea will be without captain John Terry on Saturday after he was ruled out for at least four weeks following knee surgery.
"We will badly miss him," added the manager. "It is a massive, massive loss. He is a leader and has been a great performer even through adversity."