It’s February in a faltering season for Chelsea Football Club so that can only mean one thing.
In 2009 a player revolt supposedly led by senior stars Didier Drogba, Michael Ballack and Petr Cech, who were said to have approached Roman Abramovich with their complaints, ultimately dethroned Luiz Felipe Scolari. The result? The appointment of Guus Hiddink, just one defeat from their remaining 18 league games, the lifting of the FA Cup and a refereeing howler (or four) away from reaching a second successive Champions League final.
This time last year, the players laid down the law again though not in a rebellion against manager Carlo Ancelotti for whom the players had a great deal of respect. Instead, no quarter was given as players were allowed to speak their minds in order to save a season in which a commanding lead at the top of the Premier League was thrown away. The result? The squad was galvanised and a string of positive results closed the gap on Manchester United despite falling short in the closing stages.
With Chelsea currently boasting a mere 43 points from their 25 league matches – the lowest at this point of the season since Abramovich arrived at the club – civil war is brewing in Cobham and Stamford Bridge once again. While Andre Villas-Boas might have denied that any open dissent was exhibited against his regime by his charges in the wake of what was a feeble, listless, even clueless defeat at Everton last weekend, it seems wholly unlikely that the Portuguese is being fulsome with the truth on this matter. Although the maxim that ‘the manager is always right’ should underpin any dressing room, the players could possibly be forgiven for questioning that due to the plethora of legitimate gripes amongst his stars.
Although none of the newspapers have actually divulged any details from this alleged verbal fracas, here are some entirely made-up yet wholly believable complaints that might have been delivered in AVB’s direction
Frank Lampard: I realise you are trying to stamp your authority on the club but how can you leave me – the top goalscorer this season – on the bench in favour of that muppet Meireles? No offence Raul. Do I really deserve to be treated like a trainee after all that I have done for this club especially in a season when our patterns of play have a greater resemblance to Bolton than Barcelona?
Daniel Sturridge: Boss, I know you think that I am an arrogant young upstart with an exaggerated sense of self-worth and you are largely correct. My mum says I’m the best thing since sliced bread and I believe her. However, how can you persist in playing that knackered old cart-horse Torres – no offence Nando – through the middle very week without even once considering playing me there? Apart from Frank, I’m the only guy around here regularly getting on the scoresheet. Sure, I like to shoot from an impossible range while ignoring colleagues who are placed in far better positions and that lately my efforts largely end up nearer the corner of the pitch than the opposition goal but who else are you gonna play? Lukaku?!?!? No offence Romelu.
Gary Cahill: I may have only been here five minutes but even I can already see that Luiz is the defensive equivalent of David Bentley: looks great in patches but is as dependable as the British rail network in a blizzard – no offence David. I’m an England international, don’t you know, so if I’m good enough for Capello, I mean Redknapp, then I must be good enough for this two-bob outfit.
Ryan Bertrand: Please tell me what I have to do get a game? I have 16 caps at England U21 level in the left-back position and while I accept playing second fiddle to Ashley Cole, you prefer to play the bungling Bosingwa – no offence Jose – out of position rather than give me a shot.
John Terry: Andre. Simple solution. You can carry on squatting on the touchline and making housewives swoon with your swish raincoat but why not just hand the responsibility of picking the team, choosing the tactics and motivating the players over to me. I had the same arrangement with Avram and if it wasn’t for that pillock Drogba getting sent off – no offence Didier- and that bloody pitch in Moscow I would have led the club to their first ever European Cup. It worked a treat then so it must be worth another go, eh?