Andre Villas-Boas believes Sunday’s clash at Old Trafford will have minimal bearing on where the Barclays Premier League title ends up this season.
With the league campaign just four games old as we prepare to visit Manchester United, the Chelsea manager insists it is too early for writing teams off or declaring a side to be champions in waiting.
ON PLAYING MANCHESTER UNITED
Villas-Boas has seen his side’s performances improve since an opening day goalless draw at Stoke, but he now faces the toughest test of the season at the home of the champions, who have amassed maximum points and 18 goals from their start.
“It’s for all of us to praise when any team in the world starts a league like that,” he said. “It is impressive and the fans are able to enjoy these kind of goals from Man United or Man City or any team in the world who starts a goalscoring spree like this one. It’s good for all football. We are confident with what we have been doing so far. Of course we would prefer to have been level on points by this date but it didn’t happen. We think we had an important point at Stoke. It’s early season and the Premiership is so unpredictable.”
“It’s the fifth game of the season. I think if any manager is judged on five games of the season there is not something wrong with the manager there is something wrong with the people who run clubs,” he continued.” We have made a good strong start in the Premiership. This game comes at a good time for us because both teams feel very motivated and feel strong so hopefully this will be enough for the spectacle to be excellent which all of us should hope for Normally when there is this high expectancy for a game sometimes things go the other way round and it is a boring, tactical game. Hopefully it won’t because that’s not the culture of the Premiership. I think it will be a high-intensity game fuelled by emotion.
‘Anything that comes out from that game won’t mean anything. Maybe it will play to the motivation for the team that wins or both teams if we draw.”
‘Let’s wait and see, we are confident coming from a good European start as well and know the game is going to be a big challenge but hopefully everybody in the club is able to give one step further in effort for us to try to get the three points at Old Trafford [but] observing the behaviours of the Premiership table you will see it will not be determinant for the rest of the season.”
The Portuguese will be travelling to the north-west without Didier Drogba, but aside from doubts over which backup goalkeeper will be on the bench, he has a full squad to choose from with the exception of long-term absentee Michael Essien.
“It’s good to have everybody fit. Of course it is more headaches to me. To be fair my worst day is the day I have to make selections and pick 18 or 19 to take to the game and select the 11 when everybody is so good. It takes a bit of my heart out when you have to do it, but it is just a manager’s choice. Didier made a medium intensity session with us yesterday, today high intensity but it will be too soon for the Man United game, so maybe out. Ross [Turnbull] is coming along quite strongly and will join us soon, Hilario might have picked up an injury yesterday with a knock and is another doubt. One of them will be available but Hilario picked up a big knock yesterday and went for a scan so we are trying to find the extent of the injury to his hip and Ross is making a steady recovery from an injury he picked up in a reserve team game and is at 80 percent.”
ON HIS OWN PLAYERS
Villas-Boas was asked about two of his young talents who have caught the eye with their recent performances: Juan Mata and Daniel Sturridge.
“It’s potentiated by all of his colleagues of course, and when you find a player that comes from such a different league as the Spanish league to this one, because this one is frenetic and faster, and to see him express his talent, for the adaptation to be so quick, shows the talent he has and we are fortunate to have him playing for us,” said the Chelsea boss.
On Sturridge, who missed the first three league games through suspension before netting at Sunderland last weekend, he added:
“He has been doing well like the rest of the team. Progressively he will eventually find better form but he has been doing tremendously well, not only scoring but assisting. He is a player that is able to express himself freely in the game and exploit the full potential he has. If you ask him he would feel more comfortable in the striking position but I feel he has a lot of potential in the wide position.”