Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Mourinho Stands by Under-Fire Star Ballack

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Mourinho Stands by Under-Fire Star Ballack

Article excerpt

Byline: LEO SPALL

Wycombe v Chelsea

Adams Park, tonight, 8pm, Sky Sports 1

JOSE MOURINHO insisted today that there are no splits in the dressing room as the Chelsea head coach came under fire for his "confused" team selections.

Mourinho, whose side travel to Wycombe tonight for the Carling Cup semi-final first leg, denies that he has faced player unrest over Michael Ballack's contribution this season.

He said: "Reports about problems in the dressing room are not correct. Do we want more from Ballack in terms of performance? Not from him, from everybody.

"And if the objective is to put some kind of pressure on me, then no chance because I pick the team, nobody else does it. Press opinions, other player opinions are not for me."

Mourinho will not take Germany's captain out of the spotlight and still considers him "untouchable" in a team with a four-man midfield. He added: "He plays at Wycombe and I hope it is the first step for him to play in his first English cup final."

But Mourinho has now come in for criticism in Ballack's homeland with Bayern Munich general manager Uli Hoeness claiming that Ballack's indifferent form is the result of confusion at Stamford Bridge.

Hoeness said: "Chelsea have bought star players without working out where and how they will fit into the side. They need to decide where his best position is. It's difficult for Michael to be seen at his best, because he is such a similar player to Frank Lampard.

"Both like to attack and get forward, but one of them also has to get back and defend.

"I think there's a lot of confusion as to what people's roles are. Look at Andriy Shevchenko. Chelsea thought he would be their main striker, but Didier Drogba has done far better, and now they are trying to play both.

They need to work out a system and settle on it."

Mourinho backed Shevchenko at the start of the season but his loyalty to the Ukrainian, who is a doubt for tonight's game with an ankle injury, has waned and he publicly criticised the striker for a lack of effort last week With Drogba suspended, Salomon Kalou may be asked to lead the attack while teenager Ben Sahar is kept on the bench. …

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