Chelsea dismiss talk of rift between Villas-Boas and Abramovich

By Phil McNultyChief football writer
Andre Villas-Boas
Andre Villas-Boas's side are 12 points adrift of league leaders Manchester City

Chelsea have dismissed claims that the first cracks are appearing in the relationship between manager Andre Villas-Boas and owner Roman Abramovich.

It had been reported that Abramovich is becoming concerned after some indifferent performances.

There has been speculation that Guus Huddink could return to Stamford Bridge in some capacity.

But Chelsea head of communications Steve Atkins told BBC Sport the reports were "total nonsense".

The Sunday Express claimed Abramovich was not 'overly impressed' with Chelsea's start to the season,external-link and identified the 5-3 home loss to Arsenal as a particular cause for concern.

The newspaper went on to suggest that the Blues owner is also unhappy about Villas-Boas's treatment of some of the club's senior players, especially Frank Lampard, who has been left out of the side on numerous occasions.

Hiddink, who has left his post as Turkey manager, retains a close relationship with Abramovich following his spell in temporary charge at Chelsea in 2009, when he won the FA Cup against Everton and missed out on the Champions League final when Barcelona scored an away goal in stoppage time at Stamford Bridge.

But Chelsea were at pains to point out that Villas-Boas was Abramovich's first choice following Carlo Ancelotti's sacking at the end of last season and he has the Russian's support.

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