Former Chelsea manager Luiz Felipe Scolari was sacked in February of the 2008/09 season, with accusations that his inability to speak good English was a key element that led to Chelsea’s drop in form which led to his dismissal.
But Scolari insists he could communicate with his players effectively and revealed that problems were actually caused by a falling out over who should play up front – between Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka.
Drogba missed the start of the season through injury, and Anelka – who ended the season as the Premier League’s top scorer – played through the middle and was in good form. And Scolari has admitted that Drogba’s return was what caused his downfall.
“I had Anelka playing up front. Nine. Top scorer in the league,” he told ESPN Brazil.
“The players return, I make a meeting, and in the meeting I say: ‘Look, now that the players have all returned, Drogba is back after two months, we will try to work a situation involving the two attackers playing one by the side, one in the centre, changing positions.’
“Then Anelka, the league’s top scorer, said: ‘I do not play on the wing.’ Well, that’s when I said, ‘You don’t play on the wing, one’s going to be on the left, it’s over, I’m not going to stay here arguing with you guys’. And there began a series of other things.
“I left there and our team was third in the league, three or four points behind top. Qualified for the round-of-16 or quarterfinals of the Champions League. But there was this bad environment, that situation.
“I don’t know if I had continued, what would have happened. But it was interrupted. There, I got upset.
“They’ll say: ‘Oh, because you didn’t speak English perfectly’. Of course, I did not. I didn’t speak English perfectly. But I understood perfectly. We understood, with my English, and the English that was spoken there, we understood perfectly.”