Under-fire Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas should learn from Manchester United counterpart Sir Alex Ferguson's handling of his senior players, according to former Blues assistant boss Ray Wilkins.
Villas-Boas opted to leave England internationals Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole out of his side for Tuesday night's 3-1 Champions League defeat at Napoli. Wilkins, who was dismissed from his role as Carlo Ancelotti's right-hand man in November 2010, hopes Blues owner Roman Abramovich will give Villas-Boas time to succeed.
But Wilkins thinks Ferguson's management of established stars while bringing through younger players is an example Villas-Boas should follow, and he told Sky Sports News: "You see how well Sir Alex Ferguson manages the likes of (Paul) Scholes and (Ryan) Giggs and (Rio) Ferdinand, he manages them magnificently well."
He added: "Not only the playing time but also as human beings. It's very important that when Andre is dealing with the senior players that those discussions have to take place.
"There has got to be conversation and if Andre is asking for their opinion, then he shouldn't be too shocked when the opinion comes back because they are very powerful and very strong personalities, these guys he's dealing with."
Wilkins admitted he was surprised at the omission of Lampard, Cole and midfielder Michael Essien from the line-up in Naples.
"I didn't understand the selection policy because Ashley Cole in my humble opinion is one of the best left-backs in world football, so I didn't quite see the point of putting a right full-back (Jose Bosingwa) across to the left side," he added. "I didn't quite see [a reason for] the exclusion of Frank Lampard or Michael Essien.
"It's a great shame as well that the best leader in the country isn't playing for Chelsea at the moment, and he's undergoing surgery on his knee. John Terry is so vital to Chelsea it's almost embarrassing."
Wilkins believes any improvement in Chelsea's form is dependent on them sorting out their defensive problems.
"The defensive display last night wasn't good enough. It's been a problem they have had all year," he said. "They have used several formations at the back because of injuries and suspensions so it's not been easy to keep a regular back four, but they haven't as a unit performed well enough."