Former Chelsea head coach Luiz Felipe Scolari has opened up on his ill-fated reign at Stamford Bridge, admitting that he failed to see eye to eye with Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka.
Scolari was brought in to succeed Avram Grant as the Blues’ new permanent manager in the summer of 2008, becoming the first World Cup-winning boss to manage in the Premier League.
The 71-year-old – who became a world champion with Brazil in 2002 before taking up a role with Portugal the following year – masterminded a 12-match unbeaten run at the start of his Chelsea career, but results began to turn sour over the Christmas period.
He ended up being dismissed after just seven months in the role, following a poor run of form which culminated in a disappointing 0-0 draw at home to Hull City.
Scolari has now offered an insight into the “problems” he faced on a daily basis at the Bridge, including a number of injuries to key players and his fractious relationship with some of the club’s main stars.
“Chelsea had some problems with injuries, some problems in the team. I had a form of leadership that clashed with one or two players,” he told Yellow and Green Football.
When asked which players he had issues with, Scolari responded: “Anelka and Drogba.”
The former Brazil tactician went on to detail how he disagreed with the club’s medical department over Drogba’s recovery from a knee issue which saw him miss the start of the 2008-09 season, before revealing that Anelka refused to play alongside the Ivorian in a front two.
“Our medical department thought that we should let Drogba go and recover [from surgery] in Cannes, in the middle of summer,” Scolari added.
“I thought he should stay in London. I’d also like to go to Cannes in the middle of summer. I’d stay there for a month, two months, enjoying myself.
“When he came back, I tried to adapt so that Drogba and Anelka could play together. Anelka was the top scorer in the league. We had a meeting and Anelka said: ‘I only play in one position’.
“So, there was a bit of a lack of friendship, of respect, of trying to play together with Drogba. They were both great, but someone had to do something different, to get back to help when we lost the ball.
“That was when it changed a bit. But we’ve met since then, me and Drogba. The last time was in Russia in 2018. We spoke openly about it.
“There wasn’t any ill intention from him or Anelka. But it happened and I lost out on one of the great chances of my life.”