Last time Guus Hiddink came into Chelsea’s dressing room as an interim manager, he looked for what he described as “the main gorillas”.
“I remember the day I walked into Chelsea’s training facility. I had just been to Africa to study gorillas before I arrived at Chelsea as interim manager. I looked at the training sessions in the first week. Who are the big boys here? Who is the leader? Just like in Africa, I was looking for the big Silverback. I could see three of them. John Terry, Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba. I expected them to fight for the No. 1 position, but that did not happen and that really surprised me.”
Hiddink explained that Terry was the undisputed number one gorilla in The Cobham Training Centre and that is based on the fact that he was a home-grown product on top of his natural charisma and leadership skills. “When John Terry speaks, the others will listen, Hiddink said. “He is Chelsea through and through. I thought there would be more trouble there. But there was not. Mainly because once Terry stood up and spoke, it went quiet. There is always a hierarchy in a team.” “The hierarchy needs to be clear”, Hiddink said.
Terry is no longer the young, alpha Silverback he used to be. Chelsea have lost Drogba and Lampard and their dressing room, it seems, suffers from the lack of hierarchy and discipline. Letting strong characters like Petr Čech and Ashley Cole leave also degenerated the self imposed-inner discipline at Cobham.
Hotel employers in Haifa, Israel, for example, talked about a “big mess” at the night before Chelsea’s Champions League match vs Maccabi Tel Aviv. Players ordered Pizza at 2 AM and no one really slept throughout the night. Only Pedro stayed in his room all night long.
Director of football, Michael Emenalo talked about “palpable discord” between Mourinho and his players and fans singled out the “rats” who turned the dressing room against the loved manager, lamenting “player power”. However, the real problem is that Chelsea’s dressing room is no longer a place controlled by strong gorillas and player power, it is now a jungle.
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