Andre Villas-Boas last night dismissed suggestions Chelsea were an arrogant football club amid their most turbulent week since his appointment as manager.
It would be premature to declare a crisis at Stamford Bridge but the Blues have been under siege in the past six days, which have seen them hit by a humiliating defeat, three more red cards, the John Terry racism storm, two – potentially three – Football Association fines and a supporter revolt.
The latter came during Thursday’s stormy extraordinary general meeting of Chelsea Pitch Owners, who snubbed Roman Abramovich’s bid to buy the freehold of the club’s home in what was seen as a precursor to a move to a new stadium.
Angry CPO shareholders – many of them lifelong fans – queued up to put the boot into chairman Bruce Buck and chief executive Ron Gourlay, accusing the board of disregarding their concerns.
Villas-Boas also raised eyebrows earlier on Tuesday when he suggested Terry’s explanation for his altercation with Anton Ferdinand during Sunday’s West London derby at Loftus Road should not be questioned because he was the England captain.
But Villas-Boas yesterday rejected claims he or the club were guilty of arrogance.
“No, I don’t think so – not really,” said the 34-year-old, who also insisted dealing with controversy was part of the job of any manager.
“I think it happens to every club in different situations.
“The (Carlos) Tevez story has been carrying on for weeks and weeks since it happened.
“So I have nothing to say – it’s part of the job.”
Bringing up Manchester City’s problems with Tevez merely supports the suspicion top clubs are far more likely to find themselves mired in controversy.
That is, of course, largely the result of the increased media attention upon them but Villas-Boas yesterday was adamant that did not mean there had been an agenda against Chelsea of late.
“No, no, no – not at all,” he said.
“I have no problem with what your editorial choices are, or what your opinion-making is.”
Having already been docked £25,000 for their loss of discipline in their Barclays Premier League defeat at QPR, the club were hit with a further £20,000 fine yesterday for their “failure to ensure their players conducted themselves in an orderly fashion” during the same game, while Villas-Boas could also be carpeted for his post-match attack on referee Chris Foy.
Chelsea decided not to contest the charge of surrounding Foy after Jose Bosingwa’s red card because they were guilty under the letter of the law.
“I think that when four or more players surround the referee then there is failure to control the players,” Villas-Boas said, nevertheless questioning the validity of the regulation.
“We never confronted the referee, we were never aggressive towards the referee, we never tried to influence the decision of the referee.”
Having seen three players sent off in the last two games, Villas-Boas will be desperate to keep 11 men on the pitch during today’s London derby with Arsenal.
When it was pointed out to him the two teams had the worst disciplinary records in the Premier League, he replied: “I don’t think it’s fair for you to say that.
“We haven’t lost control, we haven’t lost discipline, we are a correct team and I think Arsenal are that kind of team also.
“My team is not aggressive, is not confrontational, knows how to behave itself and I don’t agree with that kind of tag that people are trying to put on us.”
Ramires is fit to return following a knee injury, Fernando Torres is set to start a domestic match for the first time in more than a month following his three-game ban, Didier Drogba is still suspended, as is Ross Turnbull, while Hilario has flu.
Gunners centre-back Thomas Vermaelen (ankle) is expected to play, but Kieran Gibbs (stomach) remains out.