Former Chelsea midfielder Michael Ballack has said that the players were to blame for the sacking of Jose Mourinho in 2007.
Ballack also spoke out about his regrets on how his Chelsea career ended.
‘The players were to blame’
In September 2007, José Mourinho was sacked by Chelsea having won 6 trophies in just three seasons.
The sacking came as somewhat of a surprise considering Mourinho’s record at Stamford Bridge but it was well documented that the relationship between the Portuguese manager and Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich had gone stale.
Ballack says that the players also didn’t help Mourinho’s case:
“It was more or less everyone's fault - the players' fault. It was not something we regret, though, we had to look forward.
“He (Mourinho) was in his fourth year. If you look at the average time a manager has to work in a club, it was quite a good time.
“The way he worked was so intense that maybe you come to a point where things are not working anymore.
“Even then, the fans know what he achieved at the club to take them back to that level.
“The relationship is still good with him. You will not find many players who speak badly about him.”
Grant was “never really given a chance”.
Following Mourinho’s sacking, Chelsea appointed Avram Grant.
The Israeli manager was the Director of football at the club and was trusted to lead the team.
Despite getting to both the Champions League and League Cup final, Grant was sacked at the end of the season.
Ballack believes he was written off before he even took the job. “He never really had a chance,” said the 43-year-old.
”It is really difficult, after Jose Mourinho, to work at Chelsea. It could cause a problem for any manager because he had such a great relationship with the players and the fans.
“We played really good football under him (Grant), we had more freedom. He managed the team in a different way. Not so, leading the team but more by giving freedom to the players.
“A lot of players thought he would be weak, but he wasn't. He was really smart and intelligent.”
“I should have stayed at Chelsea”
Michael Ballack’s career at Chelsea met a premature end in 2010 when he got injured in the FA Cup final against Portsmouth, all but ending his hopes of securing a new long-term deal with the club.
He was only offered a one year contract extension which Ballack turned down, something he says he holds regret over:
“Carlo want me [to stay] but the club made a decision to only give players of that age a one-year contract. I wanted two,” Ballack said.
“Today, I can say maybe it was wrong. I should have stayed, even for that one year.
“I could never imagine that I would go back to [Bayer] Leverkusen. Until the last day, I actually thought we would find a way at Chelsea. I was really hoping I could stay until the end.”