Premier League

AVB keen to banish away-day blues

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Wed, 08 May 2013 08:53:00

John Terry has paid tribute to Jose Mourinho and revealed that he is still in contact with the former Chelsea manager.

Real Madrid boss Mourinho has been heavily linked with a move back to Stamford Bridge in the summer after recently hinting that he wanted to return to the club, although no decision on his future has yet been made.

It has been almost six years since Mourinho's hugely successful spell at Chelsea came to an end, but Terry says many of the players have remained friends with the Portuguese.

"We send each other text messages and wish each other good luck," said Terry.

"He's interested in our results and in everything that happens at the club. And he's not only in contact with me but also with Frank Lampard and other players.

"Jose has a great relationship with our fans as we won the Premier League and other titles with him. They have clearly shown he is the man they want after everything he won and, for them, he is still the Special One.

"I can't say too much because he is still under contract with Real Madrid, where he's been winning trophies and now has the chance to win the Copa del Rey this season.

"But he's a top manager who I really enjoyed working under.

"He always thought about the whole squad, not just the starting 11. He explained things to you and demanded everything from you even when you weren't playing.

"We worked hard and you could also talk to him about personal problems. He was a friend and we were all sad when he left."

Demba Ba only arrived at Chelsea from Newcastle United in January but he has noticed the affection that his team-mates still have for Mourinho, and says they are keen for him to return.

"The players at Chelsea are all talking about the situation and telling stories about when Jose was at the club before," said the striker.

"They are fans of his and love him as a person and as a coach. He is still greatly appreciated here."

Manager Brendan Rodgers' defence may need significant surgery over the summer with Sebastian Coates seemingly destined for the exit and the future of Martin Skrtel - who lost his place to Carragher in January - uncertain.

However, Agger is happy at Anfield and the 28-year-old insists he is committed to his contract, which does not expire until 2016, despite him being linked with the likes of Manchester City and Barcelona 12 months ago.

"I still have three years left and I intend to fulfil them," the Denmark captain said.

"There are always rumours, but who is creating them? I don't know.

"It is not a bad thing to be linked with top clubs but you have to take 70 per cent (of the speculation) off and then you have the reality."

Carragher retiring at the end of this season leaves Agger as the most experienced defender at the club, having moved to Anfield in January 2006.

While he may not be the most vocal on the pitch, Agger believes he has done - and will do - plenty in terms of leadership but admits he cannot replace Carragher.

"Jamie speaks for himself. To be at that level for that long, it's not impossible but really close," he added.

"You learn from every single player you play with in training. If you want to be the best you have to learn from the best.

"I don't think you have to replace him because every footballer is not the same. Every person is different.

"When someone steps down, someone else has to take over. I play the way I do. I am the person I am and I'm doing the things I'm doing and I won't really change.

"I am taking the responsibility I need to take. I enjoy it and there are a few players who are taking a lot of responsibility."

Aside from the defence requiring a possible overhaul, manager Rodgers knows he has to bring in more players to give Liverpool a chance of challenging for a Barclays Premier League top-four spot.

And even with no European football and a likely seventh-place finish, Agger is confident recruitment will not be a problem.

"Liverpool will always attract great talent and footballers so I'm not worried about that," he said.

"Liverpool is such a big club worldwide I think - and I hope - most players would want to join this club.

"We need to change something. We need to get some goals in and we need to move forward.

"It is difficult to say if the squad needs much work. We've shown some really good football this season but we haven't been consistent enough - we have to admit that.

"That is what we need - we need consistency."

Villas-Boas heads back to Stamford Bridge for the first time since he was sacked by Blues owner Roman Abramovich after less than nine months at Stamford Bridge.

The Portuguese, 35, has rebuilt his reputation since replacing Harry Redknapp at White Hart Lane last summer, and Spurs now stand on the brink of another crack at Europe's elite club competition.

However, if they are to move back into the top four of the Premier League - they are two points behind Arsenal and three off Chelsea - then they are going to have to record a first win at Stamford Bridge since 1990.

Yet having already broken a 23-season duck by beating Manchester United at Old Trafford earlier this season, Villas-Boas is in confident mood.

"We tried our luck at Old Trafford, it worked. We managed to change the history and the pattern. We will try the same way (against Chelsea)," he said.

"The knowledge that I have, I will try to pass it onto my players to see if in any way it can help in the decision-making."

Villas-Boas added: "We have had an excellent season. We beat all the big teams in the country, apart from Chelsea.

"We have an opportunity to go there and put our destiny in our hands, so we have motivation factors that go along with a fixture like this, we have the players' ability that is absolutely outstanding."

Redknapp lost his job after failing to secure Champions League football, as Chelsea, who finished sixth last season, went on to win the competition and so returned as holders.

Villas-Boas is all too aware of the level of expectation from within the White Hart Lane boardroom.

"The club is ready, but getting into it is the most difficult thing," he said.

"The resources that UEFA makes available in the Champions League are not available in the Europa League and I don't have to speak about the amount of notoriety you get from playing in the Champions League.

"It is the ultimate objective for any club going forward."

During his tenure at Stamford Bridge, Villas-Boas had intended to overhaul what was a relatively aging squad, moving the likes of Didier Drogba, Frank Lampard and John Terry out in favour of younger, more dynamic players such as Juan Mata to take the club forwards.

With a few minor adjustments, it appears to be a philosophy the Portuguese coach - who was part of Jose Mourinho's backroom staff at Chelsea - continues to follow as he looks to push Spurs on towards their own goals of Champions League qualification once again.

"If you don't have a style, it makes you invisible in football. Only teams with style succeed, but in the end, success normally is what matters in modern Europe," Villas-Boas said.

"Obviously what is attractive to me is maybe different to the style of football you might find attractive.

"There are various types of teams, teams built along great creative players and these Chelsea teams have the ingredient to be able to play this type of football.

"If you remember the team of 2004 was an absolutely deadly machine of football, but in a different way, a great, great counter-attacking football and one of the great teams in the country."

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