Former Chelsea defender Frank Leboeuf is convinced that Thiago Silva’s demotion to the substitutes bench for the Blues’ FA Cup win over Aston Villa had nothing to do with his wife’s controversial social media ‘outburst’.
The 39-year-old was on a watching brief for the majority of the clash at Villa Park on Wednesday night as goals from Conor Gallagher, Nicolas Jackson and Enzo Fernandez ensured a much-needed win.
Chelsea’s surprise display came after dismal back-to-back defeats, which prompted Belle Silva to hint that the club should consider replacing manager Mauricio Pochettino.
She subsequently apologised for her remarks, blaming her ‘outburst’ on being ‘passionate’ and ‘saddened by defeats’, after her spouse and Pochettino had held talks.
However, eyebrows were raised when the ever-present Silva was then dropped to the bench for their tough match against Unai Emery’s side. The Brazilian was eventually introduced in the closing stages of the game, but Leboeuf reckons his omission was not due to a fissure in relationship between player and coach.
Former Chelsea defender Frank Leboeuf believes that Thiago Siva’s omission from the starting XI was a tactical decision
Belle Silva had seemingly called for Mauricio Pochettino’s head after the 4-2 defeat by Wolves
Silva was demoted to the bench for the trip to Villa Park after playing the full 90 minutes against Wolves on Sunday
Mauricio Pochettino insisted that he selected his team based on ‘performance and balance’
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‘When everything goes wrong you have a target and the biggest and easiest one is the coach.’ The World Cup winner told ESPN FC.
‘Players are starting to criticise the coach thinking that the tactics aren’t good and the choices aren’t good but you have to take care of everything people are saying.
‘Did Thiago Silva’s wife really say that or not? I’m not sure about that.
‘Thiago Silva has already been on the bench and not because of his wife’s comments. It was because it was a tactic and because he’s 39 and needs a rest.
‘It was more that. When he came on I saw Pochettino putting his hand on his shoulder and they were talking to each other I didn’t see a tension between them.’
Before the game, Pochettino gave a spiky response to questions over his team selection. He insisted that his squad is picked based on ‘performance and balance’ and batted away any further discussion of the matter.
His decision to bring Benoit Badiashile in place of the former Blues skipper was ultimately vindicated as Chelsea kept Villa’s attack quiet and only conceded from a scuffed a Moussa Diaby strike in stoppage time.
The Blues earned an impressed 3-1 victory on Wednesday night that booked their place in the fifth of the FA Cup
Chelsea booked a fifth round meeting with Leeds, that will take place three days after the League Cup final against Liverpool at Wembley.
They must first navigate away trips to Crystal Palace and Manchester City before bidding to claim the first major trophy of the Boehly-Clearlake era.