My way IS the right way for Chelsea - AVB
Published 22:30 22/11/11 By Martin Lipton in Leverkusen
Defiant, determined, refusing to back down or admit to any doubts.
Yet as Andre Villas-Boas vowed he would defend his footballing theories until the end, the Portuguese was only pushing himself further into the cul-de-sac.
Villas-Boas is in danger of becoming a modern-day Don Quixote -tilting at windmills he thinks are dragons.
This time, it was the critics who have called for his “execution” – who do not exist – the pundits who persist in stating that his team plays with a high defensive line; those who have dared to question David Luiz’s tactical discipline.
That the Portuguese is willing to stand his corner and fight is not in doubt.
Indeed, in that regard at least, there is more than an essence of he who cannot be named. The ghost of Jose Mourinho.
But the Special One was a proven winner at Chelsea before he started calling it on.
And if Villas-Boas continues to pick the wrong targets, it only adds to the impression that events are on the point of spiralling out of his control.
On the eve of a game against Bayer Leverkusen which will either see Chelsea confirmed in the Champions League knock-out phase or facing the real possibility of elimination against Valencia next month, Villas-Boas chose to depict himself as the true keeper of the flame.
“We have set out to play in a different way - which has been visible to you,” he said.
“I believe it’s the right way, because the players are enjoying what they’re doing.
“We have set out, in every game, to win. We don’t speculate in games. We take the initiative in terms of ball possession. We create the most amount of opportunities.
"We are on the right track, but you need results to gain this consistency and the confidence to play at this level and keep the philosophy.
“It can take more or less time, but that’s not an excuse for the results we’ve been having. The focus is on us to try and turn those results around. The more the focus is on us, the more we have to respond.
“What I say is that the philosophy will be the last thing that will be changed - we are happy with the way we are playing.
"Criticism is to be accepted when results are going against you, but that doesn’t mean what you’re doing is wrong.
"It needs to be improved, that’s all.”
Villas-Boas’ habit of shooting from the lip has brought a £12,000 fine from the Football Association for his comments about referee Chris Foy’s performance during the October 23 defeat at QPR, although Chelsea have asked for written reasons of explanation.
That financial penalty appears to have had little effect on the Blues boss, who dropped Nicolas Anelka – only an unused substitute against Liverpool - from the squad he has brought with him to the BayArena.
His insistence that Chelsea had not played with a high line in the first half against Liverpool on Sunday – and that, on the contrary, they had readopted that tactic in their second half resurgence – appeared contrary to all the evidence.
And as for the criticisms made of Luiz, accused by pundit and ex-Arsenal defender Lee Dixon of “destabilising” the back division and described as “impetuous” and “a disaster waiting to happen” by pundit Alan Hansen, Villas-Boas went ultra-defensive as he made what seemed a staggering prediction.
“David is an extremely good player,” he maintained. “He’s quick, anticipates well, has amazing technical qualities.
“You don’t get central defenders with his technical ability and talent, so he’s an evolving central defender. He’ll evolve into one the best central defenders in the world.
“Look at Gerard Pique – it didn’t work for him at Manchester United, but he went to Barcelona and has become one of the best in the world. He was criticised at United, I’m sure, but look at him now.
“People say his decision-making is a problem, that he flies into tackles, but that is based on his reading and anticipation of the game, and reading and anticipation of actions is a quality.
"If that anticipation comes with extra aggressiveness, that’s for the referee to decide.”
Despite that support, the suspicion is that Luiz will be omitted for this match, with Villas-Boas aware of the need for victory.
He added: “We have two games to qualify. Two draws will get us through, but that’s not what we’re looking for. We try to take the initiative in every game, and it won’t be different here.
“Football is about moments, and at the moment we’re in a negative run of results. That’s what we have to face every day.
"The next game is against Leverkusen and it’s another opportunity for us to get things back on track.”
BAYER LEVERKUSEN v CHELSEA: PROBABLE TEAMS
Bayer Leverkusen (4-2-3-1): Leno; Castro, Friedrich, Toprak, Kadlec; Bender, Reinartz; Sam, Ballack, Schurrle; Kiessling
Chelsea (4-3-2-1): Cech; Bosingwa, Ivanovic, Terry, Cole; Lampard, Romeu, Malouda; Sturridge, Mata; Torres
BAYER LEVERKUSEN v CHELSEA: THREE TO WATCH
Bernd Leno - Outstanding teenage keeper. Has been superb in absence of injured Rene Adler and has another chance to boost his glowing reputation.
Michael Ballack - Former Blue knows exactly how Chelsea react under this sort of scrutiny. Will fancy a big game on his 100th appearance in European club competitions.
Stefan Kiessling - Will lead the Leverkusen attack and seek to take advantage of Chelsea's now-notorious high-line.
BAYER LEVERKUSEN v CHELSEA: HOW THE GROUP STANDS
P W D L F A Pts
Chelsea 4 2 2 0 9 2 8
Leverkusen 4 2 0 2 5 6 6
Valencia 4 1 2 1 5 4 5
Genk 4 0 2 2 1 8 2