Between the defeat to Liverpool in the Carling Cup and the trip to Newcastle, AVB met with Chelsea’s four most senior players: John Terry, Didier Drogba, Frank Lampard and Petr Cech.
It appears that AVB told them it was their jobs as senior players to get the team pulling in the right direction and he expected them to relay that to their team-mates. The four, used to player power at Chelsea pushed back and the conversation started to turn heated according to the Sun before AVB ended the meeting for lunch.
Villas-Boas must have realized that he had to break this player power at Chelsea because the next day at training he confronted all the players during a practice session at the club’s Cobham training ground.
Instead of meeting the players individually behind closed doors, AVB started criticising them one by one in front of each other, pulling no punches and leaving them in little doubt about what he thought of their performances.
An insider told the Sun:
“It was unbelievable. The manager would look at a player, tear him to shreds, then move on to the next one. For example, he turned to Didier Drogba and told him, ‘You’re a fraction of the player you were last season. Then he turned to the next player and laid into him. Everyone was stunned, they’d never seen him like this and had never been treated like this before.”
Then AVB showed the Chelsea squad that he was in charge when he turned his attention to Anelka and Alex.
AVB turned to Anelka and told him “I don’t want to see you anywhere near the first team again.”
The Sun insider continued:
“The manager told Anelka he wasn’t welcome anywhere. He was banned from training with the first team, banned from using the training facilities if the first-team squad were using them — and told he would be training with the reserves from now on. Then AVB turned to Alex and said ‘And the same applies to you’.”
This exchange left the Chelsea side gobsmacked, with many players thinking: “If he can do that to Anelka and Alex, he can do it to any of us.”
Last week AVB showed the Chelsea players that he was in charge and that he was strong enough to confront the players, or take them on face to face. Two wins against Newcastle and Valencia would indicate that the team talk worked.