Vialli's harsh rebuke for 'Mr Nice Guy'

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The Independent Online

As Terry Venables moved into the frame as the favourite to become the new manager at Chelsea, Gianluca Vialli last night aimed a bitter parting shot by insisting he was not given enough support as manager.

As Terry Venables moved into the frame as the favourite to become the new manager at Chelsea, Gianluca Vialli last night aimed a bitter parting shot by insisting he was not given enough support as manager.

Vialli sent a message to the Stamford Bridge staff, players and supporters who "proved to trust him and rely on his qualities", but accused the managing director, Colin Hutchinson, of "lacking confidence in his manager's conduct".

And in a statement released on his behalf by his personal assistant, Virginia d'Amore, Vialli was further critical of a "Mr Nice Guy" figure whom he did not identify but claimed should have shared his responsibilities and given him closer support. The finger of suspicion will inevitably point to the coach, Graham Rix, and Vialli's erstwhile assistant, Ray Wilkins.

Following Vialli's surprise sacking on Tuesday amid claims of dressing-room disharmony, Hutchinson insisted that the 20-minute meeting at which the club dispensed with the 36-year-old Italian's services had been conducted in a "very civilised way" and they had "parted on pretty good terms".

But Vialli has indicated that he was far from happy with the way he was treated by some figures at Stamford Bridge.

He "regretted the unexpected decision of Chelsea to dismiss him as manager of the team" and expressed his "full gratitude to this prestigious club which gave him the chance of a great professional experience".

However, the statement added: "Mr Vialli would like to take this opportunity to point out that his professional activity has always been inspired by good faith, respectfulness and integrity.

"All his decisions as manager, whether they were right or wrong, were uniquely made in the best interests of the team.

"Inevitably, a coach cannot grant all the players' wishes. That is why it is necessary that the players show professionalism and the club shows support, faith and trust in the manager's decision-making.

"It seems to Mr Vialli that his boss, Colin Hutchinson, lacked confidence in his conduct, which seems rather bizarre since under Mr Vialli's management the club won five trophies in two-and-a-half years. This scenario inevitably resulted in Mr Vialli's sacking."

The statement continued: "Mr Vialli understands that this is all part of the job and that is why he has always taken full responsibility for what has happened under his management.

"However, there are responsibilities that Mr Vialli believes should have been shared by someone else, someone who unfortunately was far too concerned about his image as 'Mr Nice Guy' to give the support which any manager would require."

Ms d'Amore declined to confirm whom Vialli had been referring to, insisting that the meaning should be clear in the context of the statement.

Earlier, Hutchinson, Wilkins and captain Dennis Wise had faced the media in an attempt to clarify the club's position.

Hutchinson reiterated that Chelsea "just wanted a change of direction", while Wise declared "it weren't the players" and Wilkins insisted that "there was nothing wrong with the way the team was playing".

Rix, assisted by Wilkins, is in charge for tonight's Uefa Cup tie against St Gallen, but neither they nor Gianfranco Zola are in the running for the vacancy which, said Hutchinson, would "not be filled from within".

The appointment of a manager will reflect Chelsea's position, said Hutchinson, as "a continental side playing in England". Thus the belief that Venables has been earmarked. A former Chelsea player, he is one of the few candidates to have coached successfully in England and, with Barcelona, on the Continent. An appointment is said to be not imminent but the bookies have shortened Venables' odds to 11-10 on and they are usually well-informed.

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