Villas-Boas: Our time will come

Villas-Boas this summer became the seventh manager charged by
billionaire owner Roman Abramovich with delivering European glory
and will begin his first attempt to do so on Tuesday when the Blues
kick off their Group E campaign against Bayer Leverkusen. Chelsea
have gone closer than anyone to winning the Champions League
without actually lifting the trophy since Abramovich bought the
club eight years ago. But after reaching four semi-finals and one
final in the Russian’s first six years at the helm, they appeared
to go backwards in Europe under Carlo Ancelotti, failing to get to
the last four in 2010 and 2011. As well as sparking increasing
criticism of the age of the squad, it also led some to question
whether there was now a mental block preventing Chelsea’s players
from taking that final step. But Villas-Boas, who will be making
his managerial debut in the competition on Tuesday, said: “I don’t
think there’s a mental block. There’s some kind of unpredictability
that can take you all the way to the final sometimes. Other times
it doesn’t.” The 33-year-old, who worked as a scout under Jose
Mourinho when Chelsea lost two semi-finals to Liverpool, added: “It
always depends on the draw that you get. “This club has been
present in semi-finals. “We came close in the first one against
Liverpool (in 2005). Then they made it to the final, where they
merited it. “They were close again when Barcelona reached that
first final for Pep Guardiola’s team (in 2009). “We’ve been close
to getting it. We’ll just try to be close again this season to go
all the way.” With Abramovich having unceremoniously dismissed
almost every other manager who failed in that quest, it seems
certain Villas-Boas will have to deliver the Champions League if he
is to remain in charge longer than his three-year contract. But he
said: “It will become never-ending if we address it like this. “I
don’t think I’ll be judged on it.” With Barcelona having swept all
before them last season and looking potentially even stronger this
term, it would be unfair to judge Villas-Boas should he fall short
in his debut season. “It’s not just Chelsea as a top European club
who haven’t won it,” said the Portuguese on Monday, who described
the Champions League as “the most difficult competition” around.
“Our time will eventually come. We just have to focus on making it
one of our objectives, as it has been for the past few seasons.”
What is unlikely to be tolerated is Chelsea failing to get out of a
group that also contains Valencia and Genk. Villas-Boas offered the
usual respectful platitudes to the Blues’ Group E rivals on Monday.
But his true assessment of the threat of Leverkusen will be
revealed by his team selection, especially with Sunday’s Premier
League trip to Manchester United on the horizon. “You’ll see some
changes tomorrow. Then we’ll make wise decisions for Sunday,” said
Villas-Boas, whose big decision once again revolves around whether
or not to select Fernando Torres. Daniel Sturridge certainly did
enough to start alongside or instead of the misfiring Spaniard in
Saturday’s Premier League win at Sunderland, although Villas-Boas
was reluctant to lavish praise on the 22-year-old. He said: “He had
a three-game ban and has just returned, and he had motivation to
have an impact in that game. It was the team, also, who made him
perform to that level.”