would have been sold at the end of the season if Andre Villas-Boas had
remained at Chelsea, as the Portuguese was not convinced by the
LONDON: If Andre Villas-Boas had remained at
Chelsea, goalkeeper Petr Cech would have been sold at the end of the
season, while striker Fernando Torres would have been kept.
Now Cech is set to sign a new contract as speculation grows that Torres may not stay at Stamford Bridge for much longer.
Reports have emerged that big-spending Russian
club Anzhi Makhachkala have had an initial £35 million (S$70 million)
bid for the Spaniard rejected and are ready to push the figure to £45
Antonio Sanz, the player's agent, admitted: 'We'll evaluate his future in the coming months.'
But he later made a U-turn by claiming no bids
have been received and that Torres plans to stay put at Chelsea, while
taking a dig at the former manager.
He said: 'With Villas-Boas, he was not
considered, but the arrival of Roberto di Matteo has seen him get the
trust that he deserves. He is much happier playing under him.'
It is a statement that applies to Torres'
teammates too, following the toxic atmosphere that festered under
Villas-Boas. Three weeks after the Portuguese manager's short-lived
reign ended, it has emerged how determined he was to break up the old
guard at Stamford Bridge and create a completely different team.
Not only did he want to end Chelsea's ties
with Frank Lampard and Michael Essien, as well as Didier Drogba, Paulo
Ferreira, Salomon Kalou and Florent Malouda, but he was also not
convinced by Cech's performances. He even talked to Russian owner Roman
Abramovich about selling the player who once had legitimate claims to be
recognised as the best goalkeeper in the world.
Now back in Portugal, Villas-Boas strongly
believes several players complained about him directly to Abramovich
after the 1-3 Champions League first-leg defeat by Napoli last month,
reported The Guardian.
Chelsea's defeat at West Bromwich Albion 11
days later led to his sacking and he is now waiting to finalise a big
severance agreement. As part of the pay-off, he will be expected to keep
secret the dressing- room discord that was so bad that the atmosphere
at the training ground was openly mutinous at times.
And now? Di Matteo is in charge of a
re-energised team who have won five, drawn one and lost one of seven
games under him. They still face an uphill battle for a top-four finish
in the Premier League, but are through to an FA Cup semi-final against
Tottenham and, tantalisingly, have one foot in the Champions League
semi-finals after following up a famous second-leg win over Napoli with a
1-0 victory away to Benfica on Tuesday.
If his side beat Aston Villa today, then the calls for him to be made Chelsea's permanent manager will only increase.
'He is going to turn around the fortunes of
Chelsea,' said Nigerian Celestine Babayaro, who played alongside the
Italian during his eight-year stay at Stamford Bridge. 'He deserves a
permanent contract so he can continue with what he has begun.'
Dutchman Ruud Gullit, who made 32 appearances
for Chelsea between 1995 and 1998 before taking up a managerial role,
added: 'Hopefully he gets the job on a permanent basis. It is a tough
one but I think he is doing well.'