Chelsea players must show some pride

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Despite the backing that Roman Abramovich has given to Andre Villas-Boas during his turbulent first seven months in charge at Chelsea, history has shown that such support only lasts so long at Stamford Bridge.

As the Blues prepare to take on Napoli in their Champions League last-16 first leg encounter, much will be riding on tomorrow night's game, and it's time for the players to put their egos aside to get the team winning again.

It's no secret that European success has always been a big deal for Abramovich, and so inconsistent have Chelsea's domestic performances been this year that the club are not even certain of qualifying for the Champions League next season.

Villas-Boas cannot be held individually accountable for their recent downturn in form, but as the manager he is under increasing pressure to improve results. On the eve of a potentially season-defining clash in Naples, it's more important than ever that he, his coaches, and players all stick together.

When the Portuguese tactician arrived in west London at the end of June, the former Porto boss was handed the most difficult task any manager can take on when the club's Russian owner charged him with dismantling and rebuilding a once great Chelsea team.

What Villas-Boas inherited was an ageing side with a spine of strong characters that were always going to be difficult to get rid of given the success they had previously enjoyed at Stamford Bridge.

If that wasn't hard enough, he also had to juggle the responsibility of changing a team at the same time as continuing to be successful. But, based on current form, it looks as though things are likely to worsen before they get better.

Recent results have only added to the reported unrest in the Chelsea camp, leading to rumours of a player revolt, with speculation suggesting that Villas-Boas is on bided time.

Despite claiming last week that he has the "unconditional support" of the club's board, and stating that the players don't have to back his 'project', for any manager to succeed, it's imperative to have the players on side. Once you lose the support of your dressing room, there is no turning back.

Players can dislike a manager, they can even hate him, but as long as the central characters within the squad are prepared to trust and rely on the man in charge, the collective spirit, determination and willingness to succeed will always shine through.

It's time for the likes of John Terry, Frank Lampard, and Didier Drogba to remember that while they have been good for Chelsea, Chelsea have also been good for them. And even if they disagree with the new manager's footballing principles and ideologies, there has to remain a pride and a will to do well, for a club they have helped be successful in the past.

Despite Chelsea's problems, they are by no means the worst team in the world, and they still have some very good players. But, the absence of any real imagination or attacking threat in recent weeks is perhaps the most alarming issue that needs to be addressed.

The onus is on the players to improve against Napoli tomorrow night. If they do not want to do it for their manager, they should want to do it for Chelsea. Only time will tell whether Villas-Boas is out of his depth, and that may not be too long if they continue to falter.

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