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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Chelsea owner sacks manager Villas-Boas


LONDON — Andre Villas-Boas' troubled eight-month reign at Chelsea was ended Sunday by Roman Abramovich, whose gamble on the inexperienced Portuguese backfired to leave the owner searching for his eighth permanent manager in nine years.

News photo
Time's run out: Andre Villas-Boas' eight-month run as Chelsea manager came to an end on Sunday. Assistant Roberto Di Matteo will manage the team until the end of the season. AP

Hiring the 34-year-old Villas-Boas, a former Chelsea scout, turned out to be a mistake that could cost Abramovich about $60 million and his team a place in the Champions League next season.

A regular visitor at training recently, the Russian oligarch fired Villas-Boas a day after Chelsea's first loss to West Bromwich Albion since 1979 left the club fifth in the Premier League, three points behind Arsenal in the final Champions League spot.

"Andre Villas-Boas has parted company with Chelsea," the club said in a statement. "The board would like to record our gratitude for his work and express our disappointment that the relationship has ended so early.

"Unfortunately the results and performances of the team have not been good enough and were showing no signs of improving at a key time in the season."

First-team coach Roberto Di Matteo, a former Chelsea player and West Brom manager, will take charge of the Blues until the end of the season.

"The club is still competing in the latter stages of the UEFA Champions League and the F.A. Cup, as well as challenging for a top-four spot in the Premier League, and we aim to remain as competitive as possible on all fronts," Chelsea said. "With that in mind, we felt our only option was to make a change at this time."

Villas-Boas was hired in June to replace Carlo Ancelotti, who was fired after failing to win a trophy last season despite a league and F.A. Cup double the previous year.

Amid reported unrest in the changing room, Villas-Boas struggled trying to bring younger players into the team while phasing out the older, big-earning stars such as midfielder Frank Lampard.

"He has had to take on a club there with a lot of senior pros in the background; probably had a very, very difficult job," Newcastle manager Alan Pardew said.

United beats Tottenham


LONDON — Manchester United all but turned the Premier League into a two-team race Sunday by winning 3-1 at Tottenham and ending the host team's title hopes.

United was led by Ashley Young, who set up Wayne Rooney's opener at the end of the first half before scoring twice himself after the break.

The victory put the defending champions two points behind leader Manchester City and 11 points ahead of third-place Tottenham.

"It's an entirely unbelievable result," United manager Alex Ferguson said. "I would say that's our hardest away game of the season. . . . And, in fairness, the first half we were never at the races. Maybe we got our tactics wrong."

Tottenham's second home loss of the season left it just four points ahead of fourth-place Arsenal.

Clint Dempsey, fresh off his goal that gave the U.S. a 1-0 exhibition victory over against Italy, scored twice to lead Fulham to a 5-0 rout of relegation-threatened Wolverhampton Wanderers. With his fourth multigoal game of the season, Dempsey increased his total to 18 goals in all competitions. With 12 league goals, he matched his high for Fulham, set last year.

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