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.”