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Mid-day Ticker: Villas-Boas losing players’ faith, Ferguson talks Europa League and more


 Photo by Joe Toth/


As the disappointing results piled up and tensions at Stamford Bridge grew this season, it became only a matter of time before manager Andre Villas-Boas lost players' faith.

Sure enough, Villas-Boas has acknowledged that some of his players have turned against him. But he insists he still has the support of owner Roman Abramovich, despite having the worst record of any manager during Abramovich's tenure in charge of the London club.

"That is normal," Villas-Boas said. "They don't have to back my project. It's the owner who backs my project."

Chelsea is tied with Arsenal for fourth in the Premier League with a 12-7-6 mark, in danger of missing out on a 2012-13 Champions League berth. The team is 17 points back of league-leading Manchester City.

Here are some other stories to keep your Thursday rolling:


A group-stage exit from the Champions League has left Manchester United in the unfamiliar position of chasing the secondary Europa League title. But manager Alex Ferguson wants his team competing for silverware in the tournament's May 9 final in Bucharest all the same.

"Winning a European trophy is significant," Ferguson said. "I feel good about it. It is a tournament we will try and win. There's a final in Romania. I want to be there and [the players] want to be there, and so do our supporters."

United open the Europa League round of 32 today in Amsterdam against Ajax.


Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp is well aware that many have pegged him as the ideal man to lead England at Euro 2012 this summer. But he still feels it would be "unfair" to leave Tottenham with the club enjoying one of its best campaigns in years.

"I'd be a liar if I said I wasn't the popular choice. I know I am, it's been everywhere, in every paper, every day," Redknapp said. "But it's not an easy one. I have a good job and I work with good people and I have a good team. The fans have been fantastic to me.

"Just to walk away now, when we're in such a good position, it wouldn't be fair, it wouldn't be fair on Tottenham. I have to really keep focusing on Tottenham."


American striker Mike Grella has left League One club Brentford after the two sides mutually agreed to terminate the Duke product's contract.

Grella, 25, left Leeds United for Brentford over the summer but saw limited playing time for his new team, appearing mostly as a substitute. In a November cup match, however, he did score four goals to lead his club to a 6-0 win over Bournemouth.


England has taken another step toward using artificial turf at some venues, with the Football League announcing it will seek public opinion until the end of April before contemplating the combined views of clubs, fans and officials.

Andy Williamson, the Football League's chief operating officer, said there was a "clear appetite" to consider artificial surfaces. Support for turf is strongest in League One and League Two.


Are Chelsea players right to lose faith in Villas-Boas? Should Manchester United play starters in the Europa League? Are you disappointed Grella is leaving Brentford?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Chelsea were at its peak, when michael ballack and essien were playing, the players that were chosen to play those positions hasn’t panned out as expected. Alot of players there are in decline.

    Villa- Boas seems to lack leadership and probably confidence, his tactics at times leave many dumb-founded. For the team to compete for premier and champions leagues, an major overhaul needs to be made from top to bottom.

  2. Grella wasted his time in Europe. If he had gone to MLS, he would’ve played more games (assuming no injuries and enough talent). Perhaps the guy isn’t good enough who knows. His Italian passport would still be good today. Just a waste….

  3. Chelsea’s problem seems to be an inability to adapt to a new style of play. AvB wants to play a more possession oriented style of play with a higher pressing line of defense, similar to Barca. However, Chelsea players still seem to want to play kick and run soccer and try long passes as if it’s Drogba up top still.

    I’m not sure if it’s because Chelsea’s players are just that stubborn, or if it’s because AvB is doing a bad job of getting his message accross. In then end, it’s probably a little of both. The players can blame the manager and turn on him but in the end, they’re the ones out of the field. They’re the ones giving up bad penalties and playing poor defense.

  4. They are talking about League One and League Two. Have you seen the fields in these leagues! Some of them look like the fields at your local park. Remember it rains a lot in England and rain and overuse pretty much destroys grass fields. Let’s remember that out of the limelight of the EPL and Championship, clubs in League One and League Two struggle financially. 2 million pounds or more a year on maintaining a proper grass field is a huge expenditure for them.

    Consider also that most EPL teams have and use artificial turf practice fields.

  5. is the positive that it is cheaper to maintain? I guess thats the interest from lower div clubs.. but thats a poor compromise if so..

  6. I’m sorry but the inability to close out a 3-0 lead on ManU is inexcusable, and IMO relates to his tactical decision to bunker back and sub in players who stunk like Romeu. I think he piled pressure on his own defense which then cracked cracked cracked. It didn’t have to happen, CFC was doing quite well sitting on ManU’s end.

    Don’t get me wrong, the talent is down at CFC but my impression is that you can still over- or under-achieve relative to your talent level, and while, say, Sunderland is a totally different team under O’Neill, and Fergie always seems to make ManU competitive, AVB seems to be no better than the tools at his disposal and based on ManU, could be handed a lead and better talent and still not close the deal. Coaches do matter at the margins and I think he’s made CFC worse.

  7. Not that I disagree with you that a good grass field is superior to a good turf field, but the new generation turf fields are actually quite nice and cannot be compared to the turf junk they used to put in before. If the grass field is not properly maintained or is overused, it starts turning into a bumpy dirt field, which is generally worse than the new generation turf fields.

  8. It’s not AVB’s fault his club has won less this season. There is more competition in the Premier League, and the top 4 are no longer winning everything. All of the big clubs and their fans need to realize this shift in tides and understand there aren’t elite European clubs anymore, except in La Liga, which lacks a sustainable system.

  9. spot on, there is nothing worse than to play on a turf field when you could play on a good grass field, the way it affects the game is a disaster.

  10. AVB blew that ManU game every way you can, tactics, subs, etc., and one presumes Everton signalled some loss of the locker room, though Everton is in-form. But my theory would be that Chelsea is precariously poised enough re CL that AVB must be handled delicately. I think he’ll go if there’s a definite turn for the worse that affects European qualification, just like that Wolves dog of a game that put them in relegation ended McMc’s run. Otherwise it’s risk-reward with them on the edge of Europe and depending who they can bring in, or whether it’s an assistant caretaker, I don’t know if you just fire the guy and risk missing Europe and a big downward spiral. They drop down to 7th though and you might as well try Plan B because the worse that happens is they still miss Europe, best they fix the problem.

    The big problem is personnel though. Torres is a disaster, worse one they should have seen coming. David Luiz can’t seem to mark someone. The holdovers are all getting old, and a lot of the signings are ho-hum. Only guy who wows me is Mata. It’s a drop down from what it used to be and AVB lacks the chops of say Fergie or Martin O’Neill to fashion a strong unit from whatever’s lying around.

  11. Cant recall if I remember ever seeing a manager admit some of his players arent backing him.

    Also, dont know why, but it irks me when managers refer to their jobs as “a project”. It’s not a freaking science project, you are there to do one thing…win games.

  12. that turf idea is a horrible one. it might be a lot cheaper to upkeep than real grass, but it affects the flow of the game so much literally becomes almost a different game altogether at times. boo on that idea

  13. for real, way, way over due

    he is a prime example of “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” unfortunately, he is a bad example of this motto, as he has yet to succeed anywhere. cut your losses bro

  14. Ten dollars that Abramovich peaces out if they don’t make the Champions League next season. He must realize he’s never going to win it now…


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