Villas-Boas slams ‘comic’ Neville as he hails Chelsea resilience
His voice cracking with exasperated rage, Andre Villas-Boas escalated his war of words with the media yesterday, railing against Chelsea's perceived treatment at the hands of biased television pundits, scandal-mongering managers and, in particular, Gary Neville, the “comic and ridiculous” Manchester United defender-turned-Sky analyst rapidly becoming the Portuguese's bete noir.
Villas-Boas had taken the chance after his team's impressive victory over Valencia on Tuesday night to suggest that the result had served as a “slap in the face” to all those critics who had participated in a campaign of “continuous persecution” of Chelsea over the last two months, a period in which the 34-year-old had overseen five defeats in 10 games.
At his club's Cobham training ground yesterday lunchtime, though, after appearing relaxed for much of his weekly press briefing, Villas-Boas went a step further, singling out Neville for particularly vituperative treatment in response to a number of comments made after the Premier League defeat to Liverpool last month and before Tuesday's Champions League tie.
“Comic criticism, and lack of in-depth criticism from top ex-professionals, when they take the route to the ridiculous, I think I have a word to say,” said Villas-Boas. “Most people don't even bother with what they say. But if they opt for the ridiculous, I have to defend myself and my players. I have to be aggressive, I think that is fair.
“Most of these people have a past related to a single club, their favourite club, which in the end brings a likely biased position in their opinion-making. When they take the option of the ridiculous, it is unfair.
“You cannot approach a top Brazil central defender (David Luiz) saying he is commanded by a kid with a PlayStation [as Neville did]. That is ridiculous. Be careful what you are saying. They are the most important team in the world. He is one of the best central defenders in the world.
“I know Chelsea have these people — maybe fewer — but you cannot be a top defender like he was, a top Manchester United defender like he has been, and take a ridiculous route.
“I would say this to his face with pleasure. You cannot speculate about Chelsea's dressing room [as Neville did before the Valencia tie]. What does he know about our dressing room? Does he even know how to get here?
Does he even know where Cobham is?.”