Belfast Telegraph

Villas-Boas blames anxiety attack

Andre Villas-Boas has insisted anxiety and not age or a lack of quality was behind Chelsea's stuttering performance in his first home game in charge.

The Blues looked far from potential Barclays Premier League champions in Saturday afternoon's 2-1 victory over West Brom, Florent Malouda sparing Villas-Boas' blushes with a late winner at Stamford Bridge. Villas-Boas did not lose a league game at Porto last season but was in danger of suffering an early setback in his Chelsea career when Shane Long gave the Baggies a half-time lead.

Nicolas Anelka equalised and Malouda - who had been left out of the side but came off the bench in the first half - ensured the Portuguese's first three points in charge. Villas-Boas said: "In the first half, we suffered a little bit from anxiety because we suffered the first goal too early and we couldn't express ourselves."

He added: "I think it has nothing to do with the impact of the changes we made. Our half-time talk was for the players to free themselves from the anxiety they were suffering, because the public was anxious and the players were anxious and you still have 45 minutes to play and anything can happen - and it did happen.

"When you find the back of the net for the 1-1, again the emotional impact on the opponent is tremendous and we felt very, very confident to go in search for the second goal, and we found it."

He added: "This team wants to be champions again. The public wants to be champions and demands it. We are listening to their demands."

West Brom boss Roy Hodgson was left feeling "deja vu" after watching his side trouble one of the title favourites before conceding a late goal.

Hodgson, whose side also lost 2-1 to United on Sunday, said: "It's a little bit of deja vu. We looked quite solid, but you get punished for the errors you make.

"We made two down the left side which let them in, and they took their chances.

"We were a constant threat and I thought the team were very hard-working and very disciplined. And there were some outstanding individual performances."


From Belfast Telegraph