Wilkins denies Chelsea split

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The Independent Online

Ray Wilkins has denied 'player power' was responsible for getting Luiz Felipe Scolari sacked and insists there are no rifts within the Chelsea dressing room.

Scolari was axed by owner Roman Abramovich as Chelsea slumped to fourth place in the Premier League having dropped 16 home points this season.

Last Saturday's goalless home draw against Hull was the last straw and the club moved swiftly to appoint Dutch coach Guus Hiddink until the end of the season.

Hiddink will combine the roles of Russia national boss and Chelsea coach but Wilkins will remain in charge of the team for tomorrow's FA Cup fifth-round tie at Watford.

But speculation Scolari was helped on his way by divisions within the Chelsea first-team squad were denied by Wilkins, even though captain John Terry had hinted not all the players were behind the Brazilian coach.

"Totally untrue," declared Wilkins. "There's no player power here. We have to nail that. There's no player power at this club.

"The results haven't been what Roman wanted and that's why there's been a change of manager. Whenever any coach coaches a club as big as Chelsea, the players who don't play will be disgruntled, that's a fact.

"There are no splits whatsoever and we hope to show against Watford that's the case.

"You can only pick 11 players. It was very difficult for him because then you get a situation where people say the training methods are wrong.

"But every coach will have their different training methods and some players like them and some don't. But we don't have a split, none whatsoever.

"We have big players and they all want to play and it's been difficult for some of them to accept the fact they weren't selected.

"But as I said before, the players who were playing would have loved Phil, the players who weren't would have had an indifferent opinion.

"That's happened from day one in football. If you are not in the side, the manager's a 'so-and-so'. And that's a fact. So what do you do? You get in the side and then he's a nice guy.

"It's results driven and if the results aren't there it doesn't matter who it is they will change the manager. Unfortunately, that's happened here.

"I was shocked and disappointed because I enjoyed his company. He is a very decent man and I enjoyed working with him immensely but football is a tough game, a couple of results went against us and a decision was made."

But Wilkins accepts there have been too many changes at Stamford Bridge in recent years.

Hiddink's temporary appointment makes him the fifth Chelsea manager since Abramovich bought the club in 2003 while Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United have prospered by making no managerial changes during the same period.

The lack of continuity at managerial level has certainly not helped - particularly since Jose Mourinho was fired in September 2007.

Avram Grant and Scolari have both been shoved out the door in the interim and now Hiddink has been hired to stabilise the Blues.

"There's been far too many changes over the last couple of years but these things do happen at football clubs," said Wilkins.

"I don't think the Chelsea job is a poisoned chalice. We still have many talented players. We are still in three competitions. I'm sure Guus will turn what has been a little indifferent period around.

"We are fourth in the Premier League, still in the FA Cup, still in the Champions League. I don't see why it's a desperate situation, it's well turnable.

"We've had a couple of poor results, that's all we've had. But we have a number of very talented players at this club and that will turn the situation around - if indeed there is a situation."

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