Soccer / English League / British Media Keep the Spotlight on Chelsea's Infighting, Not Its Victory

England's Sunday papers devoted as much space this week to Chelsea manager Avram Grant's rocky relationship with his players as to his team's 4-0 thrashing of West Ham.

Sunday's reports follow Grant's outburst on Friday, in which he criticized the media's coverage of Chelsea.

The Observer reported yesterday that on Tuesday - two days after his team lost the League Cup finals to Tottenham - the team's players told Grant they would be 10 minutes late to practice because of a meeting they were holding. Grant waited, but 10 minutes later, when he asked the players to start practice, they reportedly blew him off and asked him to leave the room.

The paper claimed that during the London-based club's official meeting, the players showed disrespect for Grant. It also said that while Grant asked them to speak candidly about whatever issues bothered them, the players were reluctant to do so because they feared the information would be passed on to Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich. According to the Observer, players are convinced that Abramovich is involved in determining the lineup.

Player mutiny?

Meanwhile, the tabloid magazine News of the World claimed yesterday that four players want to leave Chelsea if Grant stays on as manager. According to the publication, the disgruntled players include Didier Drogba, who was not included in the match against West Ham because he criticized the lineup in the League Cup finals, veteran player and England international Frank Lampard, Mi chael Essein and Ricardo Carvalho.

The paper quoted club sources as saying that many players doubt Grant's ability to make big decisions in critical matches.