• Premier League

Di Matteo encourages player power at Chelsea

March 17, 2012
Roberto Di Matteo is happy for John Terry to assist him from the touchline during matches © PA Photos

Roberto Di Matteo insists that any manager would want the kind of leaders he inherited at Chelsea and claims he had no problem with John Terry barking orders from the bench.

Accusations of player power at Stamford Bridge were made again on Wednesday night when Blues captain Terry was pictured urging Michael Essien to drop back into defence during the club's thrilling Champions League triumph over Napoli.

That came just 24 hours after Terry had branded claims he and other senior stars ran the dressing room as "complete nonsense'' following suggestions they were partly responsible for the downfall of Andre Villas-Boas.

Former Chelsea boss Luiz Felipe Scolari warned Villas-Boas' successor "hell'' awaited him because of the influence of the squad on owner Roman Abramovich. But caretaker manager Di Matteo insisted experienced voices were an asset, not a liability.

"Every manager would like to have some leaders and, fortunately, we have some in this dressing room,'' the Italian said.

Indeed, rather than blow a fuse when quizzed about the matter, Di Matteo could not have been more relaxed about the prospect of Terry having some input from the touchline.

"It's not just him,'' he said. "Other players on the pitch were helping other members of the team to win this game. Him and other players do it on pitch and you want players to be able to help to arrive at a target everybody wanted, which was to win.'

"I expect all my players to be responsible and help each other and reinforce the message that I give before the game starts and during the game.''

Di Matteo revealed the squad had become irked by the constant allegations of player power. "Yeah, because it's not true,'' he said. "It's a perception that outside people have. There is a club here that is bigger than any one of us - players, coaches, managers - and it will be here for a long, long time.''

Of course, players are far less likely to question a manager's tactics and selection when the team is winning.

"As long as you get it right, it's fantastic!'' said Di Matteo, who boasts a 100 per cent record in his three matches so far. "You need to make the players believe that it's the right strategy.''

Players may also be less likely to question a manager who, like them, has played the game at the highest level. "I know what it is like to be in a dressing room, so I'm not intimidated by anything or anyone,'' said Di Matteo, who joked that did not mean brandishing his medals.

"You don't do that! You don't have to be an ex-player to be a successful manager, that's for sure. Arrigo Sacchi wasn't one and Jose [Mourinho] wasn't one, AVB wasn't one.

"But you can understand and you know you've been in these situations before so, obviously, you have a good understanding on what the thinking is and the procedure in their head.''

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