Vialli ousted by player power at Chelsea

LONDON, Reuters

Chelsea sacked manager Gianluca Vialli on Tuesday after 2-1/2 years in charge when the Italian admitted he had lost the confidence of his multi-national squad.

“Following discussions at 5 p.m. today with (chairman) Ken Bates and (managing director) Colin Hutchinson, Vialli has been released from his duties as manager of Chelsea Football Club with immediate effect,” Chelsea said.

“The club has great admiration for his achievements during his time in charge of team affairs.

“However, the club feels that in a wider context, it is in our best interests to seek a change of direction.”

Athole Still, agent of the former Sampdoria and Juventus striker, said player power had caused Vialli’s departure from Stamford Bridge after a poor start to the season — Chelsea have won just one of their first five games in the premier league.

“The reason for Luca’s sacking has nothing to do with the club’s results at the start of the season,” he said.

“The reason was that he had lost the confidence of some of the players. The spirit in the camp was not what he or Chelsea wanted to have.

“Gianluca accepts that he had lost the confidence of some of the players, and therefore completely accepts the club’s prerogative in choosing to dismiss him.

“Gianluca is extremely disappointed with the situation, but he knows that something had to be done. There is no rancour involved.”

The former Italian international will continue to be paid under the terms of his contract, which was due to expire at the end of the current season.

First team coach Graham Rix has taken over from Vialli temporarily, the club said. Rix will be in control against St Gallen of Switzerland in the UEFA Cup first round, first leg at Stamford Bridge on Thursday.

Failed to break strangle hold During Vialli’s tenure, Chelsea won the League Cup in 1998, the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1998 and the F.A. Cup last season, but Vialli crucially failed to break Manchester United’s stranglehold on the premier league title.

After missing out on the money-spinning Champions League by finishing fifth last season, Chelsea’s start to the 2000/2001 season have led several players to voice their disquiet.

The club lie in 10th position and are already five points behind leaders United. Worryingly they are again showing an inability to finish off lowly opposition, a failing that let them down throughout last season.