Abramovich vows to crush player power at Chelsea as AVB denies Drogba gave team talk
Published 22:30 18/02/12 By Paul Smith
Roman Abramovich has vowed to crush player power at Chelsea.
The Blues billionaire owner knows dressing-room dissent is undermining the reign of manager Andre Villas-Boas.
Abramovich’s own patience with AVB is wearing thin and the Portuguese boss can’t afford a Champions League humiliation against Napoli on Tuesday night if he is to soldier on.
Chelsea fans again made their unhappiness clear after Saturday’s 1-1 FA Cup fifth round draw with Birmingham City.
And the beleaguered boss was forced to deny that substitute Didier Drogba had delivered a morale-boosting team talk in the tunnel before the Blues reappeared for the second half.
Members of the ESPN crew claimed they saw Drogba addressing the struggling team with them losing 1-0 at the time.
A furious Villas-Boas said: “It’s ridiculous for the TV station to say Didier was doing a team talk in the tunnel. I did an interview with them and if I had known they were saying this I would have refused.”
Now the Russian owner, who has hired or fired seven managers in eight years and used to indulge his star players, has decided the time is right to get tough.
The fans turned on AVB again yesterday – and well before the end of another poor collective display.
The manager was booed for removing Jaun Mata – even though he was replaced by the popular Frank Lampard. It was Abramovich who called for a summit with his manager and players on their day off last Sunday after their defeat at Everton.
Abramovich blamed the players for the club’s alarming slump in form. And when AVB gave his under-performing squad a massive dressing down they hit back and questioned his methods and tactics.
Sources close to the Russian billionaire owner claim he has run out of patience with Villas-Boas and the only reason he is clinging on to his job is the failure to land Guus Hiddink who joined Dagestan club Anzhi Makhachkala on Friday.
Hiddink, who guided Chelsea to FA Cup success in 2009 during his caretaker tenure after replacing Luiz Felipe Scolari, turned his back on a return to Stamford Bridge amid claims he was upset at being overlooked in favour of Villas-Boas in the summer.
Ironically, Hiddink still commands considerable support from senior Chelsea players who were campaigning for his return. Inadvertently, that could have gone against Hiddink as Abramovich has vowed to break the years of player power.
Hiddink insists he has taken the Anzi job with Abramovich’s blessing.
He will be the highest paid football boss in the world on £10million a year. But Hiddink has revealed a get-out clause that will alarm AVB and anybody else linked to the Stamford Bridge job.
Hiddink said: “I have accepted this offer in the first place because of my good relations with the key figures. Suleyman Kerimov, the owner of Anzhi, is a very close friend of Roman Abramovich.
“I got to know him during my time as Russia coach.’’
And Hiddink claims he has only signed a contract until the end of this season.
He said: “I will work here in Russia until May. After this season there is an option to work there for one more year.
“I just want to get their club going for now.’’
Abramovich, who paid Porto a staggering £13m in compensation to secure the services of the young Portuguese coach last summer, is in no mood to allow players to dictate to him who should be their boss and whether AVB stays or goes.
As Sunday Mirror Sport has exclusively revealed over recent weeks the splits inside the Chelsea camp have reached critical levels.
Although Villas-Boas was under no pressure to secure silverware this season a top-four finish was the minimum requirement expected by Abramovich.
But Chelsea are currently occupying fifth position with Newcastle and Liverpool breathing down their necks.