Blues confirm showdown talks

Chelsea confirmed that Roman Abramovich met with Andre Villas-Boas and his players after the squad were hauled in on their day off following the defeat at Everton.

Football News: Roman Abramovich

The flight back from Saturday's 2-0 Barclays Premier League loss at Goodison Park saw manager Villas-Boas order his underperforming stars to turn up at the Blues' Cobham training headquarters on Sunday morning, where they were again greeted by Abramovich.

The club's billionaire owner, who is far from happy with recent results, spoke to both Villas-Boas and the players, having already spent almost every day last week inspecting the current regime at close quarters.

His presence, which has coincided with the Russian being available from a high-profile court case as well as a slump in Chelsea's results, has sparked speculation over Villas-Boas' future.

But the Blues boss and the club have continued to maintain the Portuguese's position is not under threat and that Abramovich's active interest is perfectly normal.

Indeed, almost two years ago, Chelsea went on to win the double when the Russian held a post-mortem into their Champions League defeat to Inter Milan.

There is little chance of a repeat this season, with the Blues now 17 points behind league leaders Manchester City in fifth spot, although they are well-placed in the FA Cup and are still in the Champions League.

As well as progress in those competitions, a top-four league finish which would appear the minimum requirement for Villas-Boas, who has been cut more slack than any of his predecessors under Abramovich.
The patience of the Russian, who has seemingly acknowledged the need to revamp an ageing squad, will be tested like never before if Chelsea do not qualify for next season's Champions League.

Abramovich even sacked Luiz Felipe Scolari three years ago when he began to fear a top-four place would not be secured and the Blues are in a far worse position now than they were then.

Villas-Boas admitted the performance at Everton was one of the poorest since he took charge last summer and goalkeeper Petr Cech agreed it was simply not good enough.

He told Chelsea TV: "When you lose a game 2-0 and you are Chelsea Football Club playing for the Champions League and with big expectations, losing is not good enough and the performance was not good enough, that's why we lost.

"We took so many passes side to side and we never really opened them up.

"In the second half, we tried to play more direct but they were fighting well and kept organised, and 1-0 up so early became so much more difficult to break."

Chelsea play Birmingham in the fifth round of the FA Cup on 18 February.



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