Makelele full of praise for Chelsea post-Mourinho

Claude Makelele has praised his Chelsea team-mates for the way in which they have dealt with the departure of Jose Mourinho.

The Portuguese coach left Stamford Bridge back in September 2007 with many people expecting the club to struggle without their charismatic leader.

However, Avram Grant has taken the reins and led the club to just one defeat in their last 18 Premier League games, a Carling Cup final, the fifth round of the FA Cup and the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League.

"The club is always stronger than anything else," the French midfielder told L'Equipe.

"It is stronger than the players and stronger than the coach.

"Even if the club appears to be wrong, they are right.

"Admittedly when Mourinho left the team was a little destabilised, but that was because he was such an important character.

"Everyone believed that we would collapse, but we got through that period because we are a group of hard workers and we trust in our ability.

On the issue of captaincy, Makelele said: "I am a leader that people don't see, but I am always present. The group can feel it.

"Having authority is not about shooting. Authority is about a look, a gesture. It is setting the right example with your behaviour, even if you are not experiencing a good period yourself."

Having previously announced his international retirement in 2004, only to then return to the fold two years later, Makelele has once again announced his intention to quit the national team after Euro 2008.

"Will I stop representing France after the European Championships? Definitely," he said.

"It is the right time. Believe me, there is a very good generation of players coming up behind me."

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