Times, Wednesday, December 17, 2008 1:30 PM
Chelsea manager Luiz Felipe Scolari
"is facing a growing challenge to his authority" in the locker room in the wake of the team's recent patchy form, writes Matt Hughes.
He said Scolari "was asked to explain his substitutions by several senior players after the 1-1 draw at home to West Ham United" on Sunday.
Players reportedly demanded to
know why German midfielder Michael Ballack
was substituted at halftime "rather than the underperforming Deco
," who played the full 90 minutes. When it lost
at home to Arsenal last month, 2-1, "several players asked sarcastically whether Scolari was aware that Chelsea was chasing the game rather than attempting to hold on," unimpressed by the
introduction of the inconsistent Florent Malouda
and the inexperienced Miroslav Stoch
for John Obi Mikel
include a lack of intensity in training sesssions, which some senior players think has made Chelsea less physically competitive, and "alleged preferential treatment of Deco, who has remained in
the team despite contributing little since he returned from a thigh injury in October." There may also be a communications problem, with some players not understanding the manager's
The club's board still supports Scolari, says Hughes, "but it is open in admitting that results have not been as good as was expected when he was appointed last
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