Didier Drogba did not give Chelsea team talk - Andre Villas-Boas

By Owen PhillipsBBC Sport at Stamford Bridge
Andre Villas-Boas
Andre Villas-Boas is under growing pressure at Chelsea

Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas has reacted angrily to suggestions that influential forward Didier Drogba gave a half-time team talk in their dismal home FA Cup draw against Birmingham.

Daniel Sturridge's second-half goal earned Chelsea a fifth-round replay.

But Villas-Boas dismissed speculation that second-half substitute Drogba was behind their improvement.

"This is ridiculous," said Villas-Boas. "I have nothing to say on that because it makes no sense at all," he added.

"We had opportunities to win the game, but it's never good when you draw at home to a Championship team. It's a poor result."

The 1-1 draw stretches Chelsea's winless run to five matches, bringing more talk of dressing room unrest in what has been a miserable two weeks for the club.

Owner Roman Abramovich has been a regular visitor to the Cobham training ground amid increasing rumours that Villas Boas will be sacked if Chelsea fail to progress past Napoli in their two-legged Champions League tie.

An increasingly disenchanted home support booed as Chelsea left the pitch at the end, venting their displeasure at the Portuguese's decision to take off Juan Mata, who had missed a first-half penalty, and there seemed to be sections of fans singing the name of former manager Jose Mourinho.

Villas-Boas, whose side are fifth in the Premier League, admitted that confidence was low at Stamford Bridge.

"It is normal," he said. "We need an extra mental push to feel the confidence. That comes with results and, until you get out of the cycle, it perpetuates. We don't have enough good results at the moment.

"We are still in two competitions. The game on Tuesday against Napoli is the first leg and we have a wait for the second leg at Stamford Bridge, and regarding the FA Cup we are still in it.

"We have a difficult game against Napoli but we have a chance for sure."

Villas-Boas admitted that 'levels of anxiety suffered' after Birmingham's 20th-minute opener but praised his Chelsea side's reaction following Sturridge's 62nd minute equaliser.

"The team commitment was there straight after the setback," added the Chelsea manager. "And the response was there. If the penalty goes in we have more time to find the winner.

"But, with the game 1-0, we didn't have too much time to then go on and score the winner. We managed to create some good opportunities but not enough to win.

"The first half was a little bit too much feet to feet and less into space.

"We were much more direct in the second half. We wanted to up the tempo and made the decision to use Didier as a target man."

On his injured duo, captain John Terry and fellow defender Ashley Cole, Villas-Boas is still hopeful that both might yet play a part in Tuesday night's Champions League last 16 first-leg clash in Naples.

"Both are in with a bigger chance," he said. "Hopefully, Ashley will be training tomorrow.

"John Terry is very doubtful but we will take him and see if he can make it."

The Cup replay against Birmingham at St Andrew's will not take place until Tuesday, 6 March (1945 GMT).

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