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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Luiz Felipe Scolari slams Germany captain "Michael Ballack betrayed me over Chelsea sacking!"

Luiz Felipe Scolari slams Germany captain "Michael Ballack betrayed me over Chelsea sacking!"

Sacked Chelsea coach Luiz Felipe Scolari has sensationally slammed Michael Ballack for betraying him.

Michael Ballack's bust-ups
Michael Ballack verteidigt Kritik an Bundestrainer Jogi Löw

Luiz Felipe Scolari was sacked after just 224 days in charge at Chelsea

Luiz Felipe Scolari was sacked after just 224 days in charge at Chelsea.

Scolari, a World Cup winner while in charge of Brazil, told a friend that the Germany captain – as well as fellow Chelsea stars Didier Drogba and Petr Cech – were responsible for his departure from the Stamford Bridge club.

The Sun’ newspaper in Britain broke the story, and said the former Blues boss had told his friend: Ballack, Cech and Drogba became my enemies. They have a direct line to [Chelsea owner Roman] Abramovich.”

BILD reporters in London have discovered that John Terry and Frank Lampard, along with Cech and former Bayern Munich star Ballack, were all unhappy with Scolari because there was too little training.

He was seemingly right, however, to keep Drogba on the bench.

Scolari was sacked after a poor first half of the season, with Chelsea lying fourth in the Premier League table and only taking eight points from the last six games.

The goalless draw at home to newly-promoted Hull City on Saturday proved to be the last straw.

Chelsea have already started the search for his replacement, with veteran Dutchman Guus Hiddink – currently coach of Russia and friend of Abramovich – favourite to take the job until the end of the season.

Also in the frame for the Stamford Bridge post are Frank Riijkard, who won two league titles and a Champions League while in charge at Barcelona, and former Inter boss Roberto Mancini.

EXCLUSIVE: The Chelsea part-timer - Hiddink set to double up with Russia and Kenyon may be next to go

Last updated at 6:01 AM on 11th February 2009

Roman Abramovich completed one of the most astonishing deals in English football history last night when he replaced his World Cup-winning manager with a coach he will share with Russia.

In a move revealed exclusively by Sportsmail and which has cast serious doubts over the future of Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon, Guus Hiddink will take over from the sacked Luiz Felipe Scolari until the end of the season while also continuing to guide the Russians to the next World Cup.

The situation is simplified by the fact that Abramovich is already helping the cash-strapped Russian Football Union pay Hiddink's 7million euro (£6.14m) salary.

Guus Hiddink

At the double: Guus Hiddink will take over at Chelsea until the end of the
season while also continuing to guide the Russians to the next World Cup

But it remains no less amazing when Chelsea's Russian owner is acting against the judgment of a football administrator as experienced as Kenyon, who considered it more prudent to give Scolari the chance to revive his stuttering side.

Abramovich arrived in London on Monday with the specific intention of sacking Scolari in a secluded part of the club's Surrey training complex and spent yesterday at Stamford Bridge once again directing operations.

By lunchtime he had received permission from the Russian Football Union to speak to Hiddink and by last night the details of the deal were all but in place.

Chelsea officials remain unsure if Saturday's FA Cup tie against Watford would be Hiddink's first game in charge or the hugely important Barclays Premier League encounter at Aston Villa a week later.

Roman Abramovich

Good friends: Chelsea's billionaire owner Roman Abramovich with Hiddink (right)

This week's events will be of considerable concern to Kenyon, who has been a largely isolated figure over the last few days. Abramovich did not even wait for him to return from a holiday in Barbados before sacking Scolari, greatly contrasting with Kenyon's role as executioner in the axing of the three previous managers.

Kenyon arrived back in London early yesterday - two days earlier than expected - to find his position as the highest-paid executive in English football a matter of huge speculation.

In his favour, however, is his strong relationship with agent Pini Zahavi, who once again has emerged as Abramovich's favoured middle-man in the Hiddink deal.

Earlier yesterday Hiddink, who is under contract with Russia until after the 2010 World Cup, explained why he could not resist Chelsea's advances.

'I have to admit it's a complicated situation involving the Russian national team and Chelsea,' he said while with his squad at a training camp in Turkey.

'This is an exceptional situation. If it was any club other than Chelsea my answer would be a straight "No".

F Luiz Felipe Scolari

Pay off: Sacked Chelsea boss Luiz Felipe Scolari will walk away with around £6m

But Chelsea is different because I have good relations with the owner. 'It would be a full managerial role, a day-to-day job.

But this would only be for the next two or three months until the end of the season. 'I will not leave my job with the Russian national team.

When I took the Russia job it was a long-term project and I don't like to leave it unfinished. But we'll meet in the next few days and will talk about the whole thing.'

Chelsea have agreed compensation for Scolari - thought to be around £6m - and his assistants Flavio Teixeira, Darlan Schneider and Carlos Pracidelli.


12th February 2009

By Steve Goodman

MICHAEL BALLACK has delivered his own damning verdict on Big Phil Scolari’s Chelsea reign by admitting the Brazilian was the club’s weakest link.

Scolari was sacked on Monday after the Blues dropped to fourth in the league, seven points behind leaders Manchester United.

Several senior stars are believed to have put the boot into Scolari when Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich sought opinions before axing him and replacing the World Cup winner with Guus Hiddink.

But even though the German midfielder accepts he and his team-mates should shoulder part of the blame for Chelsea’s dip, he believes Scolari left himself wide open to criticism.

Ballack said: “Every coach has his own training methods – and Scolari has been very successful with his way of doing things in the past.

“He has proved that he is a great coach but most recently there has been a lack of success at Chelsea. When that happens the blame comes down on to the weakest link in the chain – the manager.

“The players are also responsible for the fact that things have not gone so well recently.

“I was surprised about Scolari being sacked. I had not expected it and I had a good relationship with him.”

Ballack added: “Something like this is always unpleasant. It is a shame as he was not with us for long.

“Of course, there was criticism and we did not achieve the results we wanted.”

Hiddink will be Ballack’s fourth manager since Jose Mourinho signed him in 2006. But despite the upheavals, Ballack believes he can still achieve his ambitions at Stamford Bridge.

“I want to win the Champions League and play internationals – and I can do these at Chelsea,” he said.

“We were level with Manchester United until the end of last season and unlucky to lose the Champions League final on penalties.

“Mourinho was decisive in my moving to Chelsea but we have still been a top European club since his departure. “We proved it in making the Champions League final last year.”

Shocked Terry blames his Chelsea team-mates for getting Scolari the sack

John Terry last night pointed the finger at his Chelsea team-mates for getting Luiz Felipe Scolari the sack and admitted only 'two or three players' supported the Brazilian coach.

In a remarkable admission, the England captain revealed that he is preparing to lift the lid on Scolari's turbulent seven-month spell at Stamford Bridge after tonight's friendly here against Euro 2008 champions Spain.

Hours after it became clear that owner Roman Abramovich was bringing in Russia coach Guus Hiddink to replace Scolari, Terry said: 'I've got sympathy for Scolari and I'm very shocked by what's happened. He had my support, that's for sure. Two or three other players will say exactly the same thing.


On the attack: John Terry (left) turns his attention back to England last night

England's John Terry (left) chats with Guus Hiddink before an England v Russia international

Welcome boss: England's John Terry (left) chats with Guus Hiddink before an England v Russia international

'We will go into all the details after the (Spain) game. Scolari's a great man and unfortunately when the team aren't playing well, it falls on his head.

'Maybe they (the owner) should look at some of us. We did under-achieve. The overall picture needs to be looked at by the powers that be at the club.'

Sportsmail understands that Roman Abramovich flew to London last Thursday and held a series of meetings with senior players, including Michael Ballack, Petr Cech and Didier Drogba.

Terry and his England team-mate Frank Lampard are believed to be the two players who remained behind Scolari until the bitter end.

Manager C

Sympathy: Terry says the players should take the blame for axing of Scolari

The England skipper added: 'I'm not affected by it. We have not been performing well individually and collectively as a squad and that falls on the manager's head. That's unfair because a few of us could have done better in our time with the manager.

'We started off very well, but form and results dipped. At the start, I was playing well for the first five or 10 games. Since then I could have been better.

'I'm my own worst critic and I know I need to improve my fitness and my game. That coincided with Chelsea's poor run of form and I could have done better. I hold my hands up to that.

Guus Hiddink

Astute: Guus Hiddink would stabilise the club if he was made boss, says Terry

'With everything that's going on, to be away from England and concentrate on my own game is a relief given what's happening back home.'

Terry said Hiddink would stabilise the club. 'He's very astute,' said the defender.

'His teams play, they get the ball out from the back. I don't know too much more about him but we will have to wait to see.'

Performing seals are great at Abramovich's Chelsea - just so long as they win

By MARTIN SAMUEL Chief Sports Writer
Last updated at 12:20 AM on 10th February 2009

So much for sexy football. It turns out that there is nothing more tedious than not winning and Roman Abramovich is learning this rather obvious lesson the hard way.

In Jose Mourinho, Abramovich had a manager who knew how to win, but his victories were not always pretty to watch. This was not good enough, apparently. Roman, we
were told, was not amused.

So, after a bizarre interlude, he got in the man who spliced Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and
Rivaldo to win a World Cup for Brazil, and sat back to watch the firework display.

One disappointing bang and a misfiring Catherine wheel of early-season form later, one imagines Abramovich and his Chelsea board would now crawl across broken glass to secure a manager capable of grinding his way to the top of the table, while everybody in the main stand falls asleep.

Looking at what has unfolded at Chelsea, the requirement would seem to be to win the League, while balancing a ball on one’s nose like a performing seal. Mourinho was too boring, Scolari too beatable.

No Plan B: Once teams worked out Scolari's game-plan, Chelsea faltered

No Plan B: Once teams worked out Scolari's game-plan, Chelsea faltered

Even by the standard of new Premier League ownership, this is a directionless farce, and it is one entirely of the owner’s making because he has to trust his fortune to a manager with vision if he is to succeed. He had that man in Mourinho, but he grew to fear his strength.

Beware the boss who wants to have fun. Beware the guy who says working for him is going to be a blast. Abramovich is said to be that sort of owner. He wants to be entertained, he wants the spectacle, he wants to see his investment out on the field doing tricks.

Tough man to please: Scolari was given the elbow after failing to entertain the ruthless Abramovich

Tough man to please: Scolari was given the elbow after failing to entertain the ruthless Abramovich

Scolari’s reign has exposed that as a myth. It transpires Abramovich wants the same as any director or supporter. He wants his team to win; and when they do not, he wants to nail the guy responsible.

Scolari did not do a good job at Chelsea. His team set off at a sprint, but quickly tired and his methods were one-dimensional. Once Chelsea’s rivals had worked out the game-plan, they were easy to stop, and Scolari did not seem able to provide an alternative.

So there is mitigation for this decision, yes; or there would be if Chelsea did not seem to be a club that has completely lost its bearings. That is what Mourinho gave them: a man who knew where he was going. Abramovich’s wealth was a hugely important part of the process but, as has been found since, financial investment alone provides no guarantee if the ship is rudderless.

The ludicrous employment of Avram Grant, a man with no credentials for the job other
than a cultural bond with Abramovich, started the drift away from sanity, and if Scolari’s appointment seemed a sound move, his failure to return Chelsea to the efficient unit created by Mourinho may yet prove catastrophic, if the club slips out of the top four.

Ludicrous: Grant eyes the Champions League trophy after suffering defeat in Moscow

Ludicrous: Grant eyes the Champions League trophy after suffering defeat in Moscow

Scolari’s c.v. was stellar, but it was still a risk to give him his first club position in Europe. An international manager for close to a decade, he would have been used to expanses of thinking time between matches to put right weaknesses and miscalculations.

In the Premier League, matches, not to mention body blows, come thick and fast and
Scolari never seemed able to recover from them.

His Brazilian heritage may have appealed to Abramovich and at the start of the season
Chelsea were splendid to watch but, by the time of Saturday’s goalless draw with Hull City, this was a team satisfying none of Abramovich’s criteria. Winning? No. Entertaining? No. This season, Chelsea have failed to win in nine of 19 games at
Stamford Bridge.

The Special One that got away: Mourinho

The Special One that got away: Mourinho

In conversation a week ago, Frank Lampard, a consistent influence in midfield under a
succession of managers, said that Chelsea players used to stand in the tunnel at home games, feeling invincible, never considering defeat.

Recently, he said, there has been uncertainty. Would they win? Would they score?
Scolari’s failing is that he has not been able to make any impact on that mindset.

‘The years we won the League,’ Lampard recalled, ‘we would win games 1-0, not playing well. Rio Ferdinand said to me that the Manchester United players would watch our games, hoping we’d get beat, and we might play poorly enough to get
beat, but then we’d nick it, and it was the most frustrating thing for them.

Invincibles: Lampard (left) and Terry (right) celebrate Premier League glory in 2005

Invincibles: Lampard (left) and Terry (right) celebrate Premier League glory in 2005 under Mourinho's tutelage

‘Manchester United have been best at doing that this season and that is why they are top. We need to get into that mode. We have to take responsibility.’

Indeed, Manchester United’s recent run of 1,212 minutes without conceding a League
goal has included a run of eight 1-0 wins in 13 matches. That is Mourinho form. That is what Chelsea had, but it was not pretty enough for some people in the owner’s box.

They wanted excitement: and now they have got it.

Drogba happy with Hiddink

didier drogba

Blues striker believes that Russia coach will be good for the club

Chelsea striker Didier Drogba believes that the appointment of Guus Hiddink as manager until the end of the season is 'good for the club'.

The 30-year-old was in action for the Ivory Coast on Wednesday against Turkey and grabbed an equaliser in the last minute to make the score 1-1.

The former Marseille ace didn't feature regularly under ex-boss Luiz Felipe Scolari due in part to injury and suspension but since regaining full fitness Drogba has failed to live up to the reputation of past seasons.

Despite this the striker was disappointed to see the Brazilian coach get the sack but declared himself pleased with the appointment of Hiddink.

"It's good for the club, I think," he told Sky Sports News.

"We are going to work very hard to qualify for the next round of the Champions League and improve our points in the league."

Essien edging closer to comeback

by Robin Hackett , 11 February 2009

Michael Essien has taken part in his first group training session for Chelsea since September.

The Ghana midfielder has had a long spell on the sidelines after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament on international duty, but he has now taken a significant step towards recovery.

Essien is yet to return to full training – he was only involved in non-contact activities – but he appears to be on course to do so by the end of the month.

The 26-year-old is scheduled to return to first-team action in mid-March.