Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Gudjohnsen: Blame Players; Eidur Admits That Chelsea 'Slacked Off' in Shock Loss

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Gudjohnsen: Blame Players; Eidur Admits That Chelsea 'Slacked Off' in Shock Loss

Article excerpt

Byline: MATT HUGHES

CHELSEA'S players today tried to take the heat off Claudio Ranieri by accepting responsibility for last night's shambolic capitulation to Monaco.

Ranieri offered his own tactical blundering as the reason for his side's shock 3-1 defeat at the Stade Louis II, but Eidur Gudjohnsen believes the players should take the blame for an "unacceptable" second-half performance.

The Icelandic striker admitted Chelsea "slacked off " following Andreas Zikos' 53rd-minute dismissal, allowing the home side to take a commanding lead through goals from Fernando Morientes and Shabani Nonda after Hernan Crespo had cancelled out Dado Prso's opener in the European Cup semi-final first leg.

Ranieri's bizarre tactical changes, particularly the introduction of Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink in place of Mario Melchiot and use of first Scott Parker and then Robert Huth as emergency right-backs, left his players utterly bewildered but Gudjohnsen insisted they should take responsibility.

He said: "It's disappointing because we slacked off and lost our shape. We lost because of our own wrongdoing rather than their inspiration. It's unacceptable really."

Chelsea's defeat will increase the pressure on Ranieri, who was forced to explain himself after the game to Roman Abramovich, Peter Kenyon and Bruce Buck.

The club's chief executive and chairman-headed straight to the dressing rooms after the final whistle of a match that could have sealed the Italian's fate.

Ranieri was at the centre of a storm yesterday after Standard Sport reported his comments that Abramovich "knows nothing about football" and had a sword embedded in his back.

There are reports today of a renewed move for Porto coach Jose Mourinho after Kenyon was photographed at Vigo airport on Monday.

And Ranieri knows his hopes of staying at Chelsea are slim.

He said: "I've known since July that even if I win the FA Cup, the Carling Cup, the Champions League, everything, I could still be sacked. …

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