John Terry has insisted that interim Chelsea boss Roberto di Matteo has control of the Blues dressing room ahead of their crucial clash against Tottenham on Saturday.
Di Matteo took charge of Chelsea following Andre Villas-Boas’ departure earlier this month amidst reports of player power undermining the former Porto manager’s efforts, and guided the club to four successive wins before coming unstuck against Manchester City on Wednesday.
The Blues have secured their place in the semi-finals of the F.A Cup and the quarter finals of the Champions League under Di Matteo, but couldn’t further their claims for a top four finish as a late Samir Nasri goal secured all three points for City at the Etihad Stadium.
Terry was seen issuing orders from the dugout during the west London club’s memorable 4-1 win over Napoli that put them into the last eight of the Champions League after being substituted, prompting suggestions he pulling the strings behind the scenes.
The England international, who has missed Chelsea’s last two games since then because of a thigh injury, insisted Di Matteo deserved credit for the job he has done so far, while hitting back at claims that suggest he is in control.
“In response to comments suggesting that I think I’m the manager, I’d like to say Robbie has stepped up and been immense,” Terry told the Evening Standard.
“I am Chelsea through and through whether I am on the pitch or off it. Had I still been on the pitch [against Napoli] I would have been saying the same things that I was from the bench. That is my role as captain of this club.
“Just because I have come off the pitch, it doesn’t mean to say my mentality changes. People might see it the wrong way, but I care about this football club — we all do — and Robbie and his backroom staff deserve full credit.”
After their 2-1 defeat against City, Chelsea find themselves off the pace in the race for a top four spot, with fourth-placed Tottenham their opponents at Stamford Bridge this weekend.
Spurs could only muster a 1-1 draw with Stoke at White Hart Lane on Wednesday, meaning rivals Arsenal leap-frogged them into third place, with five points now separating Chelsea from Harry Redknapp’s side.