Chelsea interim boss Rafael Benitez and captain John Terry insisted their relationship is sound following the 4-0 FA Cup fourth-round replay defeat of Brentford at Stamford Bridge.
After goals from Juan Mata, Oscar and Frank Lampard – his 199th for Chelsea - Terry made a goalscoring return with a headed fourth as the holders overcame npower League One Brentford to set up a fifth-round clash with Middlesbrough.
A report today claimed Terry, who made his third start under Benitez following a knee injury sustained in November, and the Spaniard clashed earlier this month, but both parties branded it “rubbish” and were adamant they were on good terms.
“We were surprised today with some comments,” said Benitez, who kept Chelsea on course for a fifth FA Cup triumph in seven seasons.
“It’s totally rubbish. We didn’t have any problem. We were talking about football with the team.
“He was training yesterday, we had normal conversations. Everything was fine. I was really surprised.”
Following the Europa League win at Sparta Prague, where Terry was an unused substitute for a fifth time under Benitez, the interim boss described the captain’s bid for fitness as a “vicious circle” and insisted he must train regularly and then attain match fitness before being considered for selection with Gary Cahill, Branislav Ivanovic and David Luiz.
“He’s quite positive,” Benitez said. “He knows that the main thing is the team winning and if he can play, much better.”
Terry told ITV: “It was good to get on the scoresheet and good to be back.
“The manager knows me and I want to play. I have been out for two or three months, but the other two (centre-backs) have been doing well. It’s good to have competition.”
The match was played in front of Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, present for the first time since the defeat of Arsenal, and Lampard again had an impact, closing in on Bobby Tambling’s club goalscoring record despite his future being uncertain.
The midfielder has been the subject of contradictory reports over whether he will be offered the chance to extend his 12-year stay beyond the end of the season.
Asked again about Lampard’s future, Benitez, who did not have a chance to speak to Abramovich immediately after the game, said: “Every time I will give the same answer. ”He’s doing well, he’s scoring goals. Hopefully he can score another 15 until the end (of the season).
“We’ll be really pleased if he can carry on scoring goals. It will be good for him, good for the team and good for everyone.”
Another talking point was challenges from Cahill and Luiz.
Bees captain Jonathan Douglas was caught on the ankle by a late and high tackle by Cahill, while Luiz needlessly body-checked substitute Jake Reeves as Brentford finished beaten and bruised.
Benitez saw nothing wrong with the challenges and Brentford boss Uwe Rosler was still to see replays of the incidents.
Luiz apologised afterwards to Reeves, who suffered concussion in the incident.
Rosler said: “The player (Luiz) came into our dressing room, he spoke to Jake. I think that’s a fantastic gesture.
“Jake Reeves is fine. He wanted to continue, but our medical staff said it’s better not to. He will be okay next week.”
On Cahill’s tackle on Douglas, Rosler said: “I saw it in a split second. My first reaction was no complaint.”
Rosler had no complaint either when Marcello Trotta had an effort ruled out after 39 minutes, referee Neil Swarbrick having already blown for a Luiz foul on Adam Forshaw.
“On a better day he (Swarbrick) could’ve waited one or two seconds and we would’ve been 1-0 up,” added Rosler, whose attention now turns to Brentford’s challenge for promotion.
“Overall I would not complain about the referee. For me, the referee has not decided the game today, but with a little bit more fortune, we could’ve had the lead. That is what you need in games like that.
“Rafa paid my players a lot of respect in putting out a very strong team. I didn’t expect it.
“We had very good shape. At periods Chelsea were running out of ideas.
“The scoreline doesn’t really reflect the game over big parts.
“We got too loose, too early. They punished us.”