Wilkins to challenge dismissal
Ray Wilkins broke his silence yesterday over his shock departure from Chelsea and claimed he was the victim of unfair dismissal.
Wilkins -- who had a 37-year association with the Blues -- abruptly left his role of first-team coach with the Premier League champions after being told his contract would not be renewed. There was no explanation for the sudden move by Chelsea, other than a short statement thanking him for his hard work at the club.
"I am very disappointed that the board decided that I had no further contribution to make at Chelsea Football Club which has played such a huge part in my life," said Wilkins through the League Managers' Association.
"Since rejoining the club, I am extremely proud to have assisted in Chelsea's recent successes. I enjoyed a fantastic relationship with the staff, players and the supporters and I now wish them all the very best for the future.
"The LMA's legal advisors are assisting me in obtaining answers to a number of questions arising from my undoubtedly unfair dismissal, and all efforts are being made to reach an amicable solution. I therefore will be making no further comment at this stage."
Chelsea responded by insisting they have every intention of honouring Wilkins' contract. "We are having amicable discussions with Ray's legal advisors," said a club spokesman. "We have told Ray and his advisors that we will honour the termination provisions in Ray's contract."
Wilkins has been replaced by Michael Emenalo, the club's opposition scout, but manager Carlo Ancelotti maintains the role of the Nigerian would not actually change that much despite his appointment. Wilkins returned to Stamford Bridge in September 2008, initially under Luiz Felipe Scolari, and helped the club lift the FA Cup twice as well as last season's Premier League. He also enjoyed success with Scolari's interim successor Guus Hiddink and Ancelotti.
"It's a shock for me, because he's a very good man, he knows everything about Chelsea, about players," said Scolari yesterday. "He helped me many times, when I asked him about this, about that, about teams we were playing."
"Ray's departure from the club was certainly a surprise given the success that Chelsea enjoyed after his arrival, and the fact that they are reigning Premier League champions, and currently top this season's table," added Richard Bevan, chief executive of the LMA.
"He has enjoyed an illustrious career to date which began with Chelsea and I share his sadness at his leaving the club."
Ancelotti said on Friday that he had no input in Emenalo's promotion to first-team coach and he does not want the Nigerian to work with the team. He also added fuel to the flames of the speculation about who made the decision to axe Wilkins.
"I am not here to explain how I feel at the moment, because it is not the right moment," he said. "I'm professional, I will continue to work. I want to stay focused on my team."