• Manager believes referees assistant at fault at Old Trafford
• Villas-Boas complains to referees' chief, Mike Riley
André Villas-Boas has made an official complaint to Mike Riley, the head of the Premier League match officials, regarding Manchester United's first two goals in their 3-1 win over Chelsea at Old Trafford on Sunday. Continuing the public criticism of Phil Dowd's assistant referee that he had offered directly after the game, Villas-Boas claimed that "if someone had done their job" Chris Smalling's opener would have been ruled out for offside.
The second by Nani, after 37 minutes, also appeared to have been allowed after the winger started in an offside position, and Villas-Boas said: "It was a fantastic display [at Old Trafford], a poor result for us of course – our expectancy was to win. We managed to create so many opportunities, they should have translated into a more positive result. [I'm] very, very unhappy with the poor performance from the referees which had a decisive role in the result, I don't take it very lightly because it's on those two first goals, and you expect [the] linesman to do his job.
"I have already gone further ahead with the situation by speaking to the correct people. I wouldn't like to extend it publicly because I don't think I should do it. But we are all very down when the referee has such an impact."
Asked precisely how he made the complaint Villas-Boas said he had spoken to Riley and added: "I made my unhappiness known through the official channels."
It appeared Smalling was allowed to score by the lax marking of the Chelsea defence, who would not have been aware that he was offside from Ashley Young's free-kick. But a visibly irritated Villas‑Boas denied this. "I don't agree," he said. "Because I cannot lose my time organising my defensive set play for the referee to make a mistake like that. You organise your team to defend the set play, to be coherent, to hold the line, then there is a person who doesn't do his job. And I think a free-kick is easier to analyse than running play.
"We didn't have any problems in set play so far [this season]. So it's not a question of organisation, its not a question of defensive fragilities. It's a question of a mistake that you pay the penalty for."
Frank Lampard was replaced by Nicolas Anelka at half-time but Villas-Boas attempted to play this down. "It was a decision we had to make bearing in mind the result at half-time [3-0 to United]. It was an attacking substitution not because Lamps was playing badly, he had a couple of interceptions. We [had] to adapt to a more attacking style, not that he doesn't have an attacking style, he is a fantastic player, he will be a key player for the rest of the season."
Villas-Boas was asked why Lampard was not an attacking option during the second half. "It was just a change of formation, we changed to a No10, we felt that [Juan] Mata could still offer us something, plus the introduction of a striker to a channel [Anelka] and two central midfielders."
After Lampard was dropped by Fabio Capello for England's Euro 2012 qualifier against Bulgaria – he was reinstated for the match with Wales a few days later – speculation has arisen that age may be catching up with him.
Could, then, Lampard adapt his style to a more stationary midfield role? "He can adapt his game, but this is not an age or slowing problem," Villas-Boas said.
Chelsea play Fulham at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday in the Carling Cup third round when Didier Drogba should return from his concussion, the manager said. The last time the sides met in the competition, in 2004, José Mourinho's side won and went on to claim the first trophy of his tenure. But Villas‑Boas admitted the club's emphasis now differs due to Roman Abramovich, the owner.
"This is the club's philosophy, a decision the owner wants to promote [young] talent, [including] Oriol [Romeu], Ryan [Bertrand], Josh [McEachran]."