Wenger understands AVB plight

PA Sport
Andre Villas-Boas

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Andre Villas-Boas

Arsene Wenger has every sympathy for what under-fire Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas is trying to achieve at Chelsea - and accepted some of his players thought the Frenchman's own approach was "mad" when he first came to Arsenal.

Villas-Boas, 34, was only appointed in the summer but has seen his position come in for severe scrutiny following a slump in form, which has left them outside the Barclays Premier League top four, in danger of not qualifying for the knockout stages of the Champions League and culminated in the midweek Carling Cup quarter-final defeat by Liverpool at Stamford Bridge.

Wenger may now be a fully paid-up member of the English football establishment, but the former Monaco and Grampus Eight manager knows from his own experiences that it did not happen overnight, and said: "I have big sympathy for Villas-Boas. I like him personally. I think he is intelligent, competent. You can only think that he will get it right."

He added: "In our job you can only survive if you do what you feel. After, you can get it through or not. That is what I did, so for me it was not too difficult.

"I was just convinced of what I wanted and I was fortunate to face intelligent players.

"I had Steve Bould, Tony Adams, Nigel Winterburn, Lee Dixon, Martin Keown - they are all intelligent people, and maybe they thought this guy is completely mad, but we will try and it can work'.

"It is hard, but I believe as well when a manager has strong players in the squad and they share what he thinks, it makes him stronger. If they go against (him), it is difficult."

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich went all out to secure the services of the man who had guided Porto to Europa League success, paying 15million euros (£13.3million) in compensation to take the manager from the Portuguese club.

The Russian has been through several managers since the departure of Jose Mourinho, under whom Villas-Boas had worked as a coach.

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