Chelsea are in to 4/6 to continue their perfect record of finishing in the top four in every season since Roman Abramovich’s takeover in 2003 following a 3-0 win at home to Bolton, but the pressure on Andre Villas-Boas definitely hasn’t subsided.
Frank Lampard played a prominent part on his return to the starting line-up after being used as a substitute in the disappointing displays against Birmingham and Napoli, the stand-in skipper scoring the third to help his side to a first victory in six.
But instead of taking quiet satisfaction at again proving his worth, in the process overtaking Daniel Sturridge as the Blues top scorer and becoming the first player to fire double figures in nine straight Premier League campaigns, the England midfielder pushed the spotlight back onto his manager.
Asked about his relationship with the young Portuguese tactician, Lampard said: “I think, from the outside, you can probably see that it’s not been ideal but the important thing is not to focus on individual relationships too much.
“It can only be negative and people do like to play on negatives…There have been certain issues. Certain players, we don’t like not to play. But it’s never a case of players throwing their toys out of the pram to the detriment of the club.”
For his part, Villas-Boas praised the contribution of the 33-year-old midfielder in his first start since the 2-0 defeat at Everton a fortnight earlier, saying that he had “proved he can make the difference” with his 12th goal in 24 starts.
But Lampard’s unwillingness to show a united front with his much-maligned boss has meant that even in triumph, the subject of his future remains at the top of the agenda.
If Abramovich does keep faith, the expectation is that it will be Lampard instead who exits Stamford Bridge this summer, with several European clubs rumoured to be interested.