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How to Win Friend and Influence Players

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Guest Brian M

Henk Ten Cate accuses Chelsea stars of leaking stories

The controversial 53-year-old coach used an interview in a Dutch newspaper to blast the Stamford Bridge dissenters.

Ten Cate said: "What really annoys me is that members from the squad deliberately leak stuff.The training ground should be a safe zone - especially the changing room. I have a problem with it when people from the squad deliberately leak."

Ten Cate has been at the centre of a series of embarrassing media exclusives recently. His trainingground bust-up with John Terry in the build-up to the Carling Cup Final became public knowledge after Chelsea's miserable display in their defeat by Tottenham.

Then there was the revelation in last week's Sunday Mirror that Ten Cate's relationship with the players was undermined within 24 hours of his arrival last October. The tough-talking Dutchman refused to take part in an initiation sing-song expected from all Chelsea new boys. His refusal sparked howls of derision from the players.

Turning to the pre-Wembley row with Blues skipper Terry, Ten Cate admitted: "It's true I did have a row with Terry. It was one I find normal on the training ground. There was a lot of effing and blinding. But at the end Terry and I did shake hands.

"The next day it wasn't published in the press, which was good. But they waited until we lost the Carling Cup Final and bang, that was the moment the media had been waiting for.

"Ninety-five per cent of the papers in England thrive on unrest at Chelsea. My mother called me the next day and asked, 'Dear boy, have you been fighting?' I had to explain that people don't really dislike me in London.

"I find it all so childish. When I arrived it was suggested that I had forbidden the players to laugh. Yes I did say in the dressing room that there's a time for laughing and a time for working. That opinion has started to lead its own life here.

"I don't let it bother me inside the club because I focus completely on the things I'm good at. One week the media say this.

Another week they say that. Their stupidity is annoying. Must I still take them seriously?"

As Ten Cate explained in the De Telegraaf interview, he quit Ajax because of political unrest engulfing the club. His most successful work was done as Frank Rijkaard's assistant at Barcelona.

And he sees direct comparisons between Barca and the intrusive media spotlight focused on Chelsea. He explained: "It works here the same as in Spain.

"I expected respect. We went into the FA Cup tie at Barnsley with a record in my time here of 32 games, 23 victories and seven draws. We've kept a clean sheet 21 times.

"You wouldn't expect pressure from the media, given that we are doing well, but the pressure is enormous. We can't plan more than 10 games ahead because it's all about a battle for survival for us. "One bad run of results and you're out.

You just can't afford to lose here. I came to Chelsea because I was looking for peace. I wanted to work at the top level and I was looking, at the same time, for peace.

"That was a condition for me when I came here. I didn't want to talk to the media. I refused to do it. I loved the quietness. The only obligation is that I speak to Chelsea TV, the club's TV channel."

But Ten Cate broke his own code of official secrets to reveal that there are some positives developing behind the scenes.

"The first-team players, reserves and youth team all eat together in the same restaurant," he said. "They all have joined the snooker competition JT has set up.

"It underlines the feeling that the players are working together closely and creates a bond."

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