Saturday, January 17, 2009

Scolari ready to sell unhappy Chelsea stars

Luiz Felipe Scolari is ready to sell any player unhappy with life at Chelsea as the Blues boss tries to revive the club's flagging spirits.

Scolari is fed up of hearing complaints from several of his stars about tactics and team selection and then watching those same players produce lacklustre displays.

The Brazilian believes some members of his squad have been unsettled by interest from other clubs and he is determined to clear out the disaffected before the transfer window closes.

Didier Drogba, Nicolas Anelka, Ricardo Carvalho, John Terry and Frank Lampard have all reportedly had disagreements with Scolari in recent weeks as the pressure of the team's spluttering form begins to tell.

England duo Terry and Lampard are clearly untouchable but Ivory Coast striker Drogba, who was left out of Chelsea's FA Cup win at Southend in midweek following a lacklustre display against Manchester United, could have been on Scolari's mind when he demanded more spirit from the players.

"I don't know where the spirit has gone. Maybe some offers outside have caused a problem," Scolari said.

"This is the time for everybody to play as a group with spirit. Or it is time to change the group. They know they need to stay together and fight until the end of May. If not now is the time to change.

"I know many managers and assistants call the players. If they call they can buy but don't make a problem for me because I don't make a problem for other coaches. I have ethics.

"Now it is the time to transfer. After January they need to play and love Chelsea.

"Everyday I look in the newspaper and receive contacts. Ok. Pay what the club want and go. If not stay, but stay because you love it here. That is the same for every player."

Drogba has cut a forlorn figure for much of this season and it would be no surprise if he was pining for a reunion with former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho at Inter Milan.

As yet no-one has made a firm offer for Drogba and Scolari insisted he is determined to improve the player's fragile mental and physical condition.

"Now is the time to buy but who has come to buy? No-one," he said.

"Didier has started to change his technical conditions and his mind because sometimes he gets in front of goal and he is not ready.

"Now is the time to give him more confidence, then after we see what happens.

"He only doesn't play for one game. We have 40 games until the end of the season. We have time to change something."

Scolari was understandably angry with his side's dismal display in their 3-0 defeat at Old Trafford last weekend and responded by admitting several of his players were giving only 50 percent or less.

But their performance in Wednesday's FA Cup tie, where the Blues came back from a goal down to beat Southend 4-1, at least proved to the former Portugal coach that some of his squad are still willing to fight.

"We won on Wednesday not because we played a fantastic game but because we wanted to win," he said.

"When we have heart we are very good as a technical team. We are better than other teams. This is the difference because we have fantastic players. We need spirit, every game, every week, every day and every hour."

With senior players like Terry, Lampard and Carvalho all asking Scolari to change aspects of his regime, including training intensity and defensive marking schemes, the Brazilian acknowledges that he would be a fool not to listen but he knows the buck stops with him.

"I am not a dictator, I am a democratic man. I listen. If it is better for my team I change some things," he said.

"I am an international coach. I stay awake many times at night looking at videos. But if I am wrong it is my mistake."

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