By THOMAS FLOYD
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:
FERGUSON TARGETS EUROPA LEAGUE CROWN
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.
REDKNAPP DISCUSSES ENGLAND JOB
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."
GRELLA DEPARTS BRENTFORD
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 CONSIDERS ARTIFICIAL TURF
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?
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