Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho and captain John Terry have come out fighting as they seek to start turning around the club’s troubled start to the season in Wednesday’s key Champions League clash with Dynamo Kiev.
Chelsea suffered their sixth Premier League defeat of the season on Saturday when going down 3-1 at home to Liverpool. As well as constant speculation over Mourinho’s future, there have been several media stories claiming that there is a players’ revolt against the Portuguese’s management. One BBC report even cited a source stating that one Chelsea player had voiced the view that he would rather lose than win for Mourinho.
“You are accusing the players of dishonesty,” Mourinho said at his pre-match press conference on Tuesday. “If I accuse you of being a dishonest journalist I think you'd be very upset and probably you'd take legal action. I think it's a question for the players, not for me.
“[They are] giving their best in every minute of every session, giving solidarity between all of us. [They have] fantastic personal relationships, very good professional relationships, training always at the limits of quality and effort and always with a strong desire to win the next match, which is what we will try to do tomorrow.
Terry, whose own relationship with Mourinho has been questioned after being dropped earlier in the season, also rubbished talk of the squad not being behind their manager, and particularly of any individual no longer fighting for the cause.
“In my whole career I’ve never heard a player come out with those words. It’s ridiculous I have to sit here and talk about it. I’ve seen players’ faces with the disappointment after results, the feeling we’ve let the club and the manager and the fans down.
“The player wouldn’t be let out of the dressing room, let’s be honest. It wouldn’t go down too well, would it?”
Chelsea’s dismal start to the campaign has already seen their hopes of retaining the Premier League title effectively dashed with a 14-point gap to the top of the table. And last week they also relinquished their grip on the Capital One Cup when exiting on penalties to Stoke City. While a defeat on Wednesday wouldn’t spell the end of their Champions League ambitions, it would leave them hanging by a thread.
After a goalless draw in Kiev two weeks ago, Chelsea sit third in Group G, a point behind their opponents on Wednesday and three behind leaders Porto. Chelsea have only ever failed to progress from the Champions League group stage on one occasion, and that was when being relegated into the Europa League three seasons ago. While they went onto win Europe’s second competition that year under Rafael Benitez, Mourinho did not hesitate to belittle the achievement when replacing Benitez that summer. It would be yet another major hit to a reputation that has already taken a battering this season if he were to have to lead Chelsea into the Europe League in the new year.
Chelsea’s current woes present an opportunity for Dynamo Kiev to claim a spot in the last 16 of the Champions League for the first time in a decade. Champions of Ukraine last season, Dynamo currently sit joint top of the Ukrainian Premier League and are undefeated in this season’s Champions League. They also have a coach, in Sergei Rebrov, who will be familiar with the surroundings his team will encounter on Wednesday. The former striker played for Chelsea’s London rivals Tottenham and West Ham, and scored in a 5-1 League Cup win against Chelsea in 2002 while at Spurs.
Rebrov will have a fully-fit squad to choose from at Stamford Bridge, while Mourinho has lost striker Radamel Falcao to injury for “a few weeks.” Branislav Ivanovic and Pedro are back in training ahead of Wednesday’s clash.
Kickoff time: 2:45 p.m. EDT
TV channel: BT Sport 2 (for UK viewers)