Premier League

Owner Abramovich takes watching brief

Chelsea denied claims that Roman Abramovich had 'showdown' talks with AVB.
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Roman Abramovich watched Chelsea training again on Tuesday as he continued to inspect the Andre Villas-Boas regime at close quarters.

The Blues' billionaire owner has been conspicuous by his absence from the club's Cobham base since Villas-Boas became manager last summer, sidetracked by his high-profile court battle with former associate Boris Berezovsky.

Abramovich made what is thought to be his first training-ground visit of the season on Saturday, spending more than half an hour watching the preparations for Sunday's 3-3 Premier League draw with Manchester United and 20 minutes speaking with Villas-Boas.

Chelsea on Monday denied claims the pair had been engaged in 'showdown' talks, following a report Abramovich had become frustrated with results that have left them 14 points behind leaders Manchester City and only one away from dropping out of the top four.

But it seems clear Abramovich has elected to resume a more active interest in the club he has poured £1billion of his fortune into, having also spent an half an hour speaking to players after watching them blow a 3-0 lead against United.

Villas-Boas was on Monday night relaxed about the Russian's weekend visit, saying it had a "good impact".

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He added: "Roman is always very interested in the running of events and it was good for the team to feel his presence.

"We touched a little bit, of course, on next year's project but mainly on that (United) game.

"Roman is a very educated person to the cause of Chelsea Football Club and his aura is always present."

Chelsea on Tuesday night maintained there was nothing sinister behind Abramovich watching training, while Villas-Boas has repeatedly declared he has no doubt he will still be manager next season.

The Russian has certainly shown more patience with the 34-year-old than with his predecessors, seemingly recognising the need to overhaul an ageing squad.

But it will be exactly three years on Thursday since Abramovich sacked Luiz Felipe Scolari after beginning to fear Chelsea would not qualify for the Champions League and they are in an even worse position now than they were then.

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