AVB denies Abramovich picked trio
Andre Villas-Boas laughed off any suggestion Roman Abramovich had ordered him to play Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole and Michael Essien in Chelsea's 3-0 Barclays Premier League win over Bolton.
Villas-Boas recalled the trio who were controversially left out for Tuesday night's 3-1 Champions League defeat at Napoli and watched them help ease the pressure on him by ending the Blues' five-match winless run and lift them back into the top four.
The Chelsea boss admitted on Thursday that Abramovich had sought an explanation for his team selection in Naples, but he categorically denied that had influenced his starting line-up here, and said: "What are you trying to say. Of course, it's a co-incidence."
He added sarcastically: "I got the call just this morning to play them, all three of them."
That brought laughter at a post-match press conference which was by far the most relaxed of the past month.
But Villas-Boas also warned he would be far less jovial in future should anyone question his integrity, saying: "The day that I feel disrespected in some way about my professionalism, you will find a different person speaking to you."
The decision not to play Lampard, Cole and Essien in midweek sparked further reports of dressing-room unrest.
Explaining their recalls, Villas-Boas said: "Today, we got back to our normal 4-3-3, three fresh legs on the pitch. So I think pretty straightforward.
"Lamps has always been competing for the place since he returned from injury and played against Everton.
"He had his chance today and played fantastically well. Normal squad rotation and nothing new."