Scolari tells stars to 'play with love for Chelsea'
Saturday 17 January 2009
If Chelsea does not quite yet resemble a sinking ship, Luiz Felipe Scolari yesterday told his players he was more than happy for them to make like rats, if they so desired.
With the transfer window shutting exactly two weeks today, the Chelsea manager spelt out that he had no wish for drifters or half-hearted turns in a blue shirt. Having dropped Didier Drogba prior to Wednesday's FA Cup third round replay win against Southend, that could be seen primarily as a message to the Ivory Coast forward, but Scolari was clear that it applied to his entire squad.
The Brazilian is unsure why the strength, spirit and good results of the first half of the season have gone, but he suspects some of his players have been approached to join other clubs, and this has affected their attitude. But the win in midweek confirmed for him that his team can rouse itself when needed to. At Roots Hall against Southend they fell 1-0 behind before coming back to win 4-1.
"I don't know if Didier doesn't want to play – I think he wants to," Scolari said, who added that Chelsea have been working on the Ivorian's mental application. "It's the time for everyone to play as a group, as a spirit and as love to Chelsea, or it's time to change.
"It's not about Didier, it's about all of my players, until the end of January is the time for transfers. If they are not transferred they need to play, to love Chelsea, to play with their heart.
"If after 31 January all the players stay here, they know we need to fight together until 27 May [the Champions League final] together. If no, now is the time to change. Not for one or two players. I know many managers and assistants call players. Now is the time to call and buy. Not make a problem for me. Because I don't make a problem for other coaches. Because I have ethics. I have time for all my players.
"Now is the time. Every day I look in the papers about contact for players. OK. Pay what the club wants and go. If you don't go, stay here. But stay because this job is very good and because you love the club. Finish."
This was Scolari's second outspoken press conference this week, having on Tuesday accused most of his players of giving less than 50 per cent in their recent games. Against Southend he was pleased to see he got a reaction and he now asked his team to continue in that vein. "We have good players, fantastic technically. But we need spirit every game, every day, every hour. Because on Wednesday we won, not because we played fantastic but because of the heart, we loved the club, we wanted to win."
Scolari, who faces Stoke City and their aerial threat today, is likely to start with Nicolas Anelka as his main striker, but having not even included Drogba in his squad of 16 against Southend, it will be interesting to see if he is on the bench, at least, in the battle for league points.
Scolari said they were working to improve the 30-year-old's state of mind. He said: "Drogba was left out because of his condition. Now we start to change his mind because sometimes he is not the same as before. Sometimes you put in your head something and it blocks. Now it's time to open this space in his head and give him more confidence."
If Scolari loses these mind games, the consequences could be dire for him and Chelsea.
Latest in Sport
Loic Remy to Liverpool: Striker undergoes medical in Boston ahead of £8.5m move
Commonwealth Games 2014 Opening Ceremony: Ewan McGregor launches Unicef charity fundraiser, making £2.5m in one night
Manchester United transfer news: Arturo Vidal subject of £39m bid
Sami Khedira, Isco and Angel di Maria among Real Madrid players up for grabs this summer
Louis van Gaal gets tough with Manchester United players, with Darren Fletcher and Luke Shaw berated in public and Phil Jones left looking bemused
- 1 I was a Woman Against Feminism too
- 2 Is Gideon Levy the most hated man in Israel or just the most heroic?
- 3 Chief Ebola doctor in Sierra Leone has contracted the deadly disease himself
- 4 Students offered grants if they tweet pro-Israeli propaganda
- 5 Israel has discovered that it's no longer so easy to get away with murder in the age of social media
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Vladimir Putin is given 'one last chance' to end hostilities in Ukraine
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Massive rise in sale of British arms to Russia
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: victims’ bodies bundled in black bags and loaded onto trains