Big Phil lost control: Terry
As Guus Hiddink was all-but confirmed as Luiz Felipe Scolari's successor as Chelsea manager yesterday, the club's captain John Terry implied that it had been Scolari's failure to control the dressing room at Stamford Bridge that was at the heart of his dismissal.
Terry, the captain of England as well as Chelsea, said that Scolari had his full ‘support’ but, tellingly, added: "Two or three other players will say exactly the same thing, I'm sure."
Perhaps too much can be read into Terry's phraseology, but it is clear he felt that only a small minority - ‘two or three others’ as he put it - were backing the Brazilian.
Terry's claim comes as it has also been revealed that the club owner, Roman Abramovich, on a flying visit to London last week, travelled to the Chelsea training ground to canvass a handful of senior players about Scolari.
These are thought to include Didier Drogba, Michael Ballack and Petr Cech but not Terry.
The defender said he would ‘go into details’ after England's friendly tonight against Spain as to how he feels about the decision to sack Scolari.
"I'm just very shocked by what's happened," Terry said.
"I have sympathy for Scolari. He's a great man. Unfortunately we weren't playing well and it falls on his head. Maybe they should look at some of us. We did under-achieve, but we'll talk about it after the game, if that's ok."
Given he is the most powerful personality among the Chelsea squad, then Terry's words have added weight. He certainly appeared angered by events and his suggestions of a divided dressing room and an unhappy squad confirms, once again, the divisions and problems encountered by Scolari who had called a series of meetings to try and hold the players together.
It appears that task will now fall, for the time being at least, to Hiddink who has been cleared by the Russian Football Association to take over as Chelsea's manager until the end of the season and fulfil the remit of an "interim manager". Hiddink has told friends he had ‘no choice’ but to accept the job after direct approaches from Abramovich before he sacked Scolari on Monday. An announcement is expected before the weekend.
"We are not against Guus Hiddink working in both posts until the summer," said Andrei Malasov, a spokesman for the Russian FA. The association's president Vitaly Mutko.