Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger admits he was ‘probably’ dropped this weekend for appearing to question Antonio Conte’s tactics.
Andreas Christensen replaced Germany international Rudiger in Chelsea’s starting XI at Southampton on Saturday and Conte said the omission was down to tactics.
A week before, Rudiger slammed his Chelsea teammates and questioned the team’s tactics after the frustrating 1-1 draw at home to West Ham.
Asked if he felt he had been left out against Southampton because of the comments, Rudiger told ZDF: ‘Probably. But I didn’t mean it that way.
‘It was a fact, it wasn’t about the tactics. I did not attack anyone personally, I meant us as a team.’
Rudiger admitted he was ‘a bit’ surprised to be removed from the squad but reiterated his ‘respect’ for under-pressure Chelsea manager Conte.
Asked about the relationship he has with Conte, Rudiger added: ‘It’s just normal from my side. He’s my coach. I must respect him. And he’s a very, very good coach.’
At St Mary’s on Saturday, Chelsea battled back from two goals down to beat relegation-battlers Southampton 3-2 – Olivier Giroud came from off the bench to score twice.
Despite the impressive turnaround, Chelsea remain unlikely to qualify for next season’s Champions League by finishing in the top four.
The team still have the FA Cup to play for, however, and Rudiger hopes to win the competition to offer Chelsea fans some positivity in what has been a poor season.
‘Not winning it would not be worthy of Chelsea,’ the German defender said. ‘It’s a very, very big club in England and the fans always expect you to win something.
‘I think it would be a good reconciliation [with the supporters] with the FA Cup.’