Chelsea midfielder Nemanja Matic has denied suggestions of a dispute with manager Jose Mourinho.
The Serbia international has struggled for form in a difficult early part of the season for the Premier League champions, and was hauled off after just 28 minutes of action as a substitute in the 3-1 defeat to Southampton at Stamford Bridge.
Mourinho denied he was attempting to “humiliate” Matic, but the 27-year-old was left out of the starting line-up for last Saturday’s win over Aston Villa, though he returned for the Champions League draw with Dynamo Kiev this week.
And Matic himself has moved to quash talk of a rift with Mourinho, saying after that match: “In my life I have never had a problem with any coach, because all coaches respect that I am very professional, I do my best.
“So with Mourinho, it is the same. He knows he can count on me always. He respects that, I respect not only him but all coaches which I’ve had in my life.
“We won the Premier League and League Cup together [last season]. We did great things together. I am sure we will continue, maybe this year we will win something also.”
Chelsea are 10 points behind league leaders Manchester City after nine games this season and Matic accepts belief has been low within the squad.
“Of course confidence is not high, but not only for me. The team is not in a good position in the Premier League. I think that is very difficult for us,” he added.
“But, game by game, we will be better and better, because we have quality for that. We work very hard, we deserve more, so we will see in the future what we can do. We have to show that we are a team, because individually we can’t do anything.”
Belgium star Eden Hazard is another to have been dropped by Mourinho due to poor form this season but Matic is adamant he remains one of the world’s best.
“Eden is a great guy, a great player, the best player in the league last year, very important for us,” the former Benfica man continued.
“For the rest, you’d have to ask the coach. I am very happy when I play with him. It’s very simple: you pass him the ball and he always does something. Eden is one of the best players in the world.”