Roman Abramovich used to go into the Chelsea dressing room and “glare” at players after games, recalls Steve Sidwell.
Dressing room visits were a hot topic at Chelsea last season with Todd Boehly frequently entering the inner sanctum at Stamford Bridge; in one instance labeling the players “embarrassing” after defeat to Brighton.
A report earlier this week revealed co-owner Behdad Eghbali continues to make regular post-match trips to the dressing room despite the backlash against Boehly last season.
But Mauricio Pochettino has given the go-ahead for the visits and, unlike Boehly, Eghbali has avoided speeches and simply ‘shaken hands with players and coaching staff, and wished individuals well’.
The Chelsea owners’ antics have been viewed as extraordinary by most, but Sidwell has revealed that Abramovich would also visit the Blues dressing room when he was in charge of the club.
He told talkSPORT: “When I was at Chelsea Roman Abramovich used to come in after matches at Stamford Bridge.
“It depends what the context is and if they’re coming in to address everyone and then what they’re saying, ultimately.
“As a player, I never really saw it as a negative or a positive. After a game you knew if you’d played well or not, but with Roman it was different.
“If he came in, he didn’t have to say anything really. It would be a glare.
“He’d come in after most games and shake everyone’s hands and stand there talking to the coach and that was it – at that time players were getting up and going for showers or getting some food.
“He never really addressed us, but if there was a defeat or a bad performance, he’d come in and it would be ‘oof okay, here we go’.
“If they’re coming in and giving their opinions of the game – an owner’s opinion is different to someone who has been in football for 20-odd years at the highest level. It just depends what’s being said.”
Sidwell was also asked if he ever saw an owner claim to know more than the manager about tactics.
“All of the owners at the clubs I was at owned it as a business where they’ve got departments to look after certain areas and the manager looks after the team,” he added.
“At the training ground there were times where we were called in for a meeting with the owner – especially at Chelsea with Roman, but away from the stadium and the emotion.
“We had to go in as a collective. You knew when he [Abramovich] was there because everyone was there!
“He would just address us to say ‘this is Chelsea Football Club, the standard at the moment is not good enough’. Short, sharp and sweet but just a little punch to go ‘come on’.
“But I’ve never had an owner come down to the dressing room to try and do tactics or be anywhere near the training pitch, nothing like that.”
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