SEVILLE, February 11 – Chelsea captain John Terry has dropped a strong hint that a revolt by some of the club's players triggered the dismisssal of Luiz Felipe Scolari.
Although he insisted that he personally had been shocked by Scolari’s sacking and described the Brazilian as a "great man", Terry made it clear Tuesday that not all of the Chelsea squad were of the same opinion.
Against a background of reports that Michael Ballack, Petr Cech and Didier Drogba had agitated for Scolari to be sacked, Terry pointedly stressed that he and a "few" other Chelsea stars had been behind the Brazilian.
"I got the call yesterday afternoon and I was very shocked at the time and disappointed because myself and a few of the players at the club were fully behind the manager," Terry told reporters, later putting the number of Scolari loyalists at just "two or three players."
"So we’re shocked to see him go but that is the people in charge at Chelsea who make them decisions."
Terry’s comments will inevitably be interpreted as a sign of deep divisions within the Chelsea dressing room but the club captain said the entire squad had to accept that they had let down the man who guided Brazil to World Cup glory in 2002.
"I’m disappointed because we have not been performing as well as we can do and getting the results for the manager," Terry said. "It is a shame because it falls on his head when we should be looking at ourselves. We should have won a lot more games under the manager."
Scolari was sacked on Monday after Chelsea slipped to fourth place in the English Premier League table, with no realistic chance of reclaiming the trophy.
The club are now attempting to bring in Russia manager Guus Hiddink on a temporary basis until the end of the season and England boss Fabio Capello fears the turmoil at Stamford Bridge could distract his Chelsea players from Wednesday night’s clash with Euro 2008 champions Spain.
Terry, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole were all with the England squad on Monday when Chelsea’s decision to sack Scolari was announced.
The move has left the Chelsea trio with a lot more on their minds than Wednesday’s friendly in Sevilla’s Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan stadium.
Capello has spoken to his players about the importance of maintaining their focus on a match he regards a crucial gauge of how far the squad has come under his leadership.
England are building up to crucial World Cup qualifiers against Slovakia and Ukraine on March 28 and April 1 and Terry revealed: "The manager has stressed already that he wants everyone focused. What is happening back home is at the back of your mind but we come here focused on the England game ahead.
"If anything, it is a bit of a relief to get away for a couple of days because my main concern should now be England. I want to put in a good performance personally and hopefully the squad can do the same."
Capello added: "I spoke to John Terry about the situation but I am sure he will be okay tomorrow. The national team shirt is very important for him and being the skipper is very important to him."
England have been outplayed by Spain on their last two meetings — in Madrid in November 2004 and in Manchester in February 2007 — with both encounters ending in 1-0 wins for the Spanish.
Capello said the clash with Spain would provide a very different test to the one provided by Germany, who were beaten 2-1 by what was effectively a second-string England side in Berlin in November.
"The players are different technically, physically and mentally to Germany’s," Capello said. "For me tomorrow will be a very important test because it is not easy for any team to play against Spain.
"They play with one forward and a lot of players in midfield and they are very good technically. For this reason you have to choose your positions on the field very carefully and press their players a lot. We did well against Germany. Now we have to recover that spirit and it will be important to know the value of our team against a different style of play."
Capello all but confirmed that David Beckham would figure at some stage in the match, which will mean he equals Bobby Moore’s 108 caps, the record for an outfield player for England.
"David Beckham is here because he is playing well with AC Milan," Capello said. "He is important for the group at this moment."