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Why Chelsea's senior clique have no chance winning AVB battle

Chelsea's senior clique are on a loser if they believe they can win their battle with manager Andre Villas-Boas.

The message is fast becoming clear: if you can't work with AVB, then start packing your bags. There can be only one winner.

Unhappy senior players have next-to-no chance of Roman Abramovich choosing them over the current manager.

The Russian knows if was to, he'd be left with the same problem. Maybe the new man could get another decent 6-12 months out of the current lot, but that's all. With John Terry, Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba all the wrong side of 30, the chance of a two or three-year revival under a different gaffer is remote - at best.

Instead, the senior clique need to make a decision. Can they accept AVB's methods and play under him? Because if not, they'll need to start organising their next club. The chances of repeating the Phil Scolari coup are over.

And if they're clever and want to stay, those in the gun would do well to reign in their minders.

Stories about dressing room mutiny, Nicolas Anelka's farewell party and AVB's blanking of Lampard after the win at Wolves do them no favours. The root of these stories is obvious. It's not Juan Mata's camp or friends of Oriol Romeu who are talking down the gaffer.

These constant leaks will be infuriating Villas-Boas - and also leaves him with only one choice. Those involved need to be moved on.

Indeed, if Abramovich needed any justification to back his manager, it's AVB's eye for a quality player, which has been proven spectacularly correct this season. Mata and Raul Meireles have both been impressive in the Blues midfield. Romeu was tied up before his arrival, but AVB's management has seen the ex-Barcelona prospect bed down steadily. And his use of Danny Sturridge in a wide role hasn't diminished his goal scoring ability - indeed by his own admission, the striker says he's a better player for it.

Is it any wonder that Abramovich is happy to support AVB's overhaul when his signings have so far been spot on?

But for all the change, the Portuguese is still keeping an eye on spirit within the club. Which is why the decision to deal in Sam Hutchison deserves greater recognition.

Likened to Terry as he was coming through the youth system, Hutchison was forced to announce his retirement two years ago at 21. But after being granted the chance of a run with the Blues reserves this season, Hutchison has now not only won a new deal with Chelsea, but AVB has registered him for the Premier League. It's an incredible turnaround - encouraged by AVB and his coaching staff.

The spirit engendered from such decisions can only be positive for the club as Villas-Boas presses on with his difficult overhaul.

The decision left for the senior group is: do they want to be part of this new era?

Unlike the regular leaks coming from the dressing room, not once has Villas-Boas criticised any of his players in public. He's always supported them, even taking on the likes of Gary Neville and Alan Hansen on their behalf - and all the consequences and backlash that comes from it.

The Blues locker room no longer carries the influence of its past. The heavyweights need to either toe the line or find another club.

Chris Beattie
About the author

Chris Beattie

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