Former Porto coach hails Blues’ ‘fighting spirit’ and issues apology for antics of fitness coach that angered Newcastle camp after 3-0 victory at the Sports Direct Arena
Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas insisted that David Luiz would go on to prove himself to be “one of the best central defenders in the world” even though the Brazilian latest lapse almost proved costly to his team on Tyneside.
The Portuguese coach leapt to the defence of his centre-half after he was lucky to escape being sent off by lenient referee Mike Dean after hauling down Newcastle striker Demba Ba, who was through on goal, in the opening exchanges of the 3-0 win at the Sports Direct Arena.
Much to the dismay of the Newcastle players and coaching staff, Luiz was let off the hook by Dean, who showed him a yellow card even though Ba would only have had Petr Cech to beat following a misjudgement by the centre-half in the fourth minute when the scores were level.
But a bullish Villas-Boas not only insisted that his team deserved a slice of luck but he hit back at those who questioned Luiz’s defensive capabilities, maintaining that his player would go on to become one of the best players on earth.
“I don’t agree with people who say that his over-enthusiasm sometimes gets the better of him,” Villas-Boas told the post-match press conference.
“David is the No.1 central defender for Brazil so I think he will be one of the best central defenders in the world and in two years’ time he will be nominated for the best football defender in the world. I have that much confidence in him.”
Despite his praise for Luiz, Villas-Boas conceded that his team had enjoyed a lucky break as Ba broke clear of the flat-footed marker.
He added: “It was major incident. Mike Dean decided not to send him off and you have to agree with me that this season Chelsea have had tremendous decisions against them from the Old Trafford off-sides to penalties not given against Bayer Leverkusen and in the game against Liverpool.
“But nobody made any fuss about it so I hope you guys do not do that same. Maybe Mike Dean’s decision went our way and I am sure [Newcastle manager] Alan Pardew will not be happy with that but all I can say is that with nine or 10 men we play even better. We might have won the game more than 3-0.
“The emotions from the stands and the Newcastle bench suggested they thought it was a sending off but I haven’t seen it again. Anyway, I was expecting to see a yellow card.”
Villas-Boas saluted his team’s resilience after goals from Didier Drogba, Salomon Kalou and Daniel Sturridge saw off Newcastle.
“It was a good, solid performance for 90 minutes,” Villas-Boas said. “The players were decisive today with their inspiration and self-confidence and inner belief at a time when results haven’t gone our way.
“To find this inner belief and strength was the major key against one of the best defences in the Premier League and a team that was at full steam in terms of motivation. It was always going to be a difficult challenge and we did fantastically well and deserved applause for what they did.
“It was a much-needed win. We are making good progress. We hope that our Premier League fortunes are changing. We have a major game against Valencia in the Champions League on Tuesday and we hope to go through and if we do we set up the right emotional stimulus to take on the league leaders with a shot further in the distance.
“The players were amazing. We have a fantastic team and fighting spirit when everything is against them. We have full belief in them.”
Villas-Boas expressed regret over the antics of fitness coach Jose Mario Rocha who infuriated the Newcastle coaching staff by celebrating Kalou’s goal in front of their opponents’ bench.
“Sometimes people lose track of where they are and he showed his emotions but he was too much on top of the Newcastle bench,” he said. “To make a case would be a ridiculous. We are not provocative people or arrogant and that is why I made it clear to him that I wouldn’t like him to do it again. We say sorry and hope we can now control our emotions.”
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