Sunday 21 January 2018

Roman Abramovich tells Chelsea squad to turn season around

Roman Abramovich says he did not want to sack Jose Mourinho while Russian ponders return for inspirational Didier Drogba

PICS SHOWS;Chelsea Training today at Cobham Training Ground in Surrey Players Training Being watched By The Owner Roman Abramovich.
PICS SHOWS;Chelsea Training today at Cobham Training Ground in Surrey Players Training Being watched By The Owner Roman Abramovich.

Jason Burt and Matt Law

Roman Abramovich has issued a personal rallying call to Chelsea’s beleaguered players as the club’s owner considers asking Didier Drogba to return as part of a new coaching set-up.

Abramovich arrived at Chelsea’s Cobham training ground on Friday morning to watch training and address the first-team squad through a translator ahead of Saturday’s game against Sunderland.

With champions Chelsea just one point above the relegation zone, Abramovich told the players he had not wanted to fire fire Jose Mourinho but was left with no choice.

The Russian billionaire insisted that Mourinho’s exit heralded a fresh start at the club and that everybody must take responsibility to make sure performances and results quickly improved.

Abramovich also told the players that Guus Hiddink would be the caretaker manager, but it is not clear whether he spoke to Mourinho, who returned to Cobham to gather the last of his things.

Mourinho had been sacked by technical director Michael Emenalo and director Eugene Tenenbaum, as Abramovich was not at Cobham on Thursday.

Before leaving Chelsea’s base on Friday, Mourinho spoke to some of the players and wished them well for the rest of the season. Those who had already left received messages from the Portuguese.

Other than Mourinho, Rui Faria, Silvino Louro, Jose Morais and Carlos Lalin all left Chelsea in the latest cull, leaving assistant first-team coach Steve Holland and Eddie Newton to oversee training and take charge of the Sunderland game, with Hiddink expected to be in the Stamford Bridge stands.

Other than bringing in Hiddink until the end of the season and targeting Diego Simeone as Chelsea’s next long-term manager, Abramovich is considering what immediate and future changes he can make to improve the club.

One idea is to bring back Drogba as part of a new coaching set-up, either under Hiddink or a new man next summer.

Abramovich remains incredibly close to Drogba from the striker’s two playing stints at the club and has made no secret of the fact he is keen for the Ivorian to take a position at Chelsea when he retires.

Drogba still has another season on his contract at Major League Soccer club Montreal Impact, where he has been a huge success, and is yet to be offered any position by Abramovich. The pair, however, speak regularly and the subject is likely to be brought up in the coming days and weeks.

Last year, Mourinho said: “Drogba will be a coach or assistant youth team manager or the main ambassador of Chelsea, or director of sports. There will be a role for him when he wants. He is a player who Mr Abramovich wants at the club.”

Although he spent most of last season on the substitutes’ bench behind Diego Costa, Drogba’s departure has been referenced as a significant factor in Chelsea’s terrible form this term.

Drogba acted as a mentor for Eden Hazard and the Belgian credits the 37-year-old with helping him produce the performances that made him player of the year. Without Drogba at his side, Hazard has yet to score this season.

Promoted Links

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport