Football

AVB - Nothing untoward in complaint

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Andre Villas-Boas has denied he was attempting to influence referees by complaining to Mike Riley about the officiating in Chelsea's Barclays Premier League defeat at Manchester United.

Chelsea fell 2-0 behind at Old Trafford on Sunday to goals which replays showed should not have stood as both scorers had been offside, with United eventually running out 3-1 winners. Villas-Boas revealed he had contacted referees' chief Riley about those incidents and also the decision to award Manchester United a "soft" penalty.

But he added: "Nothing is going to change regarding the performance of the referees and I'm not trying to influence decisions, just calling attention to the fact that this situation happened and it played an extremely important part in the result."

Villas-Boas also insisted he had not asked for Sunday's referee, Phil Dowd, to be withdrawn from future Chelsea matches.

"I would never do that," he said. "The game should be human, with as many emotions as possible, and I think that the referees have a major part to play."

Poor officiating did not mask the fact that, despite dominating Sunday's game in an attacking sense, Chelsea once again looked extremely vulnerable at the back. But Villas-Boas was adamant that was not the case, saying: "I cannot lose my time organising my defensive set plays for the referee to make a mistake like that - I'm sorry.

"You organise a team to defend a set play, to be coherent, to hold the line, and then there is a person who does not do his job. We had an incident like this against Sunderland the other day - offside not given. So it's not a question of organisation, it's not a question of defensive fragilities. It's a question of a mistake that you pay the penalty for."

The Portuguese also leapt to the defence of Frank Lampard, whose half-time substitution on Sunday was seen by some as the further evidence his powers are on the wane. Insisting his fellow 33-year-old was still one of the world's best players, Villas-Boas denied the midfielder's future lay solely in a deeper-lying role.

"You are taking the question towards an age problem or a slowing problem, with which I completely disagree," he said. "Frank has played 90 minutes in all games before with maximum intensity, with extremely good physical stats that he has always had in his career."

Lampard look set to be rested for Wednesday's Carling Cup third-round tie against Fulham, with Villas-Boas confirming he was under orders from Roman Abramovich to blood Chelsea's youngsters in the competition this season.

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Topics:
Sunderland
Fulham
Football
League Cup
Chelsea
Premier League
Manchester United
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