Clarke denies rift between Jose and Abramovich

February 17, 2007

Chelsea assistant manager Steve Clarke has denied a rift has opened between manager Jose Mourinho and owner Roman Abramovich.

Clarke revealed Abramovich will end his six-match absence from Stamford Bridge by attending this afternoon's FA Cup fifth-round tie against Norwich.

Mourinho reportedly had an argument with Abramovich after last month's 4-0 victory over Wigan.

The Russian billionaire's ensuing failure to attend any of Chelsea's next six games intensified speculation over his alleged spat with Mourinho and fuelled suggestions he was losing interest in the club.

But Clarke said: 'Roman has been on business - he's very busy and has had other things to do.

'He's back today and we're looking forward to seeing him. There's no question he's committed to Chelsea. He's proven that ever since taking over.

'He doesn't have to prove anything else. It's good when you see him with and around the team. He enjoys being with the players and coaching staff.

'It will be good for the atmosphere around the club and maybe the speculation over why he's not there will stop.

'He's been in Russia taking care of business and, if you're worth that amount of money, it's understandable when he has matters to take care of.'

Clarke's contract expires at the end of the season and the former Blues defender is in no hurry to begin negotiations over a new deal.

He said: 'It's not difficult when I see speculation about other coaches being brought in.

'I focus on my job. I'm a level-headed fellow and the speculation doesn't affect me. I've been at this club for 18 out of the last 20 years.

'I see no reason why they would want to get rid of me. I sleep very well at night and look forward to the next day of work.

'I haven't spoken to Jose at all about my contract. Contracts are a personal thing for me and it's the same for the boss.'