Belfast Telegraph

Abramovich's interest fine, says Chelsea manager Villas-Boas

By Jack Pitt-Brooke

Despite a league position which he describes as "not very honourable", Andre Villas-Boas insists he is relaxed about Roman Abramovich's increased attention.

The Chelsea owner was at training yesterday and the day before, and went into the dressing room after last Sunday's draw with Manchester United. Dismissing any suggestion of an overbearing presence yesterday, though, Villas-Boas described his relationship with Abramovich as "normal" and "legitimate".

Fears would be understandable. Chelsea are fourth, which Villas-Boas knows is not good enough. Should they finish there, and they are seven points behind third-placed Spurs with 14 games left, it would be the lowest finish of the Abramovich era. Tomorrow they travel to Everton, where Carlo Ancelotti was dismissed at the end of last season, having finished second.

None of that apparently disturbs Villas-Boas. "Regarding the presence of the owner," he said, "you can speculate whatever you want but for us it is fantastic to have him here." The hearing of Abramovich's High Court battle with Boris Berezovsky ended last month, giving him more time now to focus on football.

Villas-Boas portrayed a harmonious situation at Chelsea, with owner and manager in agreement after "short, accurate and precise" discussions this week. "The objectives we have for this season are pretty much outlined," he said, conceding that the owner was unhappy with their league position. "We have two competitions where we look better [the Champions League and FA Cup], and another competition where we have to dilute the damage and try to finish fourth, at least, which is not a very honourable position for this club."

But Abramovich, according to Villas-Boas, is committed to a three-year rebuilding process at Chelsea. "There is a great empathy and motivation for next year's project," said the manager, seemingly confident that he would still be in charge next season.

The two know each other from Villas-Boas's spell as an opposition scout for Chelsea, and while their relationship is naturally very different from how it used to be, he said that it was typical given their roles. "When I was here [as a scout], I agree, it was almost a 'salute' relationship, nothing else," Villas-Boas said. "Now it's more active, very positive. He is a good person to share knowledge with, ask questions and try to give answers regarding what I do. I think it's legitimate. I would compare it to a normal club president-manager relationship. Nothing different than that."

On the Fabio Capello's issue of appointing the England captain, Villas-Boas backed the Italian. "I think that is up to the managers to decide," he said. "The manager decides on appointing the captains, or decides on the group appointing the captains. With me, I was always able to appoint my captains."

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