Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Desailly Gives Thumbs Up to AVB over Hardline Approach

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Desailly Gives Thumbs Up to AVB over Hardline Approach

Article excerpt

Byline: Simon Johnson Football Correspondent

[bar] NDRE VILLAS-BOAS has spent his first six months at Chelsea determined to change the mantra in the dressing room as much as the tactics.

The coach, who joined from Porto last summer, has endured a difficult time both on and off the field with Chelsea's title hopes all but over before the New Year after five defeats and intense speculation he has upset senior stars.

Captain John Terry exclusively told Standard Sport yesterday that he is 100 per cent behind the Portuguese and there are no problems behind the scenes, although the cynics will not be so easily persuaded.

Villas-Boas's decision to rotate veterans such as Frank Lampard, while telling Nicolas Anelka and Alex they can leave the club, has caused controversy. A defensive attitude towards the media has also earned some negative press, however Marcel Desailly is backing the manager's hardline stance.

Desailly knows all about the politics that can go on inside the Chelsea changing room, having captained the club during his six years there.

Still a keen observer of events at Stamford Bridge, he believes Villas-Boas is right to challenge the status quo of talent that has played a big part in the club's triumphs over the last seven years, during which they have won three League titles, three FA Cups and two League Cups.

He told Standard Sport: "Roman Abramovich was very strong to put aside Carlo Ancelotti, who is a very good coach, last summer and bring someone very clever in.

"We thought Villas-Boas was going to be a magician but he's a technician who needs a bit of time to bring the club to a different identity, another level tactically and technically.

"Also to make some of the players accept that they are still the most important in the team but at the same time accept the new rules. You have to break some attitudes and habits that have been done before to set up your own vision.

"I like the way he's coming across, admitting mistakes but saying Chelsea are still going to work hard. That he is here for the long term and not for short-term work and that he should be judged at the end. …

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