LONDON • John Terry believes that Chelsea should have "got rid of a lot of players" instead of sacking manager Jose Mourinho as Diego Simeone distanced himself from the Stamford Bridge vacancy.
The Chelsea captain expressed sympathy with the departing Portuguese and conceded that the players' performances have been unacceptable for most of the season.
He admitted that many of the players deserved to be dismissed, but were fortunate because such an approach is unrealistic, particularly in the middle of the season.
Chelsea are expected to make changes during next month's transfer window, but the vast majority of their players are likely to stay, with one or two new recruits brought in.
"If it was the case where you could get rid of a lot of players, I'm sure clubs would do that, but unfortunately it does fall on the manager's head," said the centre-back.
"There's nothing we can do about that. For Chelsea being the big club we are, it is unacceptable for us to be in this position. The manager has lost his job because of that."
He also expressed optimism that interim boss Guus Hiddink will be able to restore the players' confidence, which remains fragile despite Saturday's 3-1 win over Sunderland.
The Dutchman started work a day earlier than expected yesterday, when he oversaw a short session with Radamel Falcao, the injured and out-of-form Colombia striker.
The rest of the players were given two days off so Hiddink will take charge of his first official training session today.
Didier Drogba watched Saturday's game alongside Hiddink and also visited the players in the dressing room afterwards.
Hiddink is keen for the former Chelsea striker to join his coaching staff even though Drogba has no coaching experience and is contracted to Montreal Impact, the Major League Soccer club.
"I want Didier Drogba in my staff," he said. "It's important to have club icons working for you. The only problem is that he has a contract in Montreal."
Hiddink also reiterated that he will leave Chelsea in May.
"It's really for five months, not for longer," he told De Telegraaf, in the Netherlands. "Next season Chelsea will have another coach than Hiddink for the first team."
Whether the new man in charge will be Simeone - reportedly among Chelsea's top targets - remains a doubt, particularly after the 45-year-old Argentinian suggested that he will not leave Atletico Madrid in the summer.
"Why can't I be here longer?" he said in El Pais yesterday, when asked about leaving the La Liga joint leaders, in an interview conducted before Mourinho's departure. "Why did I choose a five-year contract? Because I see a club that is 'virgin' and Miguel Angel (Gil Marin, the chief executive officer) and Enrique (Cerezo, the president) have the ability to open up new sources to strengthen. It's not easy to leave Atletico.
"More than a team we are a family, and we are a real family,"
THE TIMES, LONDON, THE GUARDIAN