He claimed that at half-time during February's Premiership game at Arsenal, when Chelsea were 2-0 down, he had had to talk Gullit out of sending out only two defenders in the second half.In a match 18 months ago at Leeds, the club Rix supported as a boy growing up in Doncaster, he argued forcibly, and successfully, against Gullit's wish to withdraw two players after Chelsea conceded two goals in the first 10 minutes. Now, with Vialli seemingly intent on taking the playing side of his title more seriously than his predecessor, Rix has become Chelsea's definitive touchline voice."I trust Rixie and he never lets me down. He knows the game and his job," said Vialli, whose 13-week reign has also included a Coca-Cola Cup triumph. "I'm learning every day (about management) and how to cope with the problems Sometimes I do things right. When I get it wrong, he lets me know so that I can do better in future."Vialli added: "He has become my right arm He's my first coach as a manager and he's superb. The substitute scored gloriously within 20 seconds, and the rest is hysteria.The choreography of the incident leading up to the winner revealed much about the chemistry between the duo now guiding Chelsea's fortunes, as well as highlighting Rix's rise to a position where he can beg to differ with "the gaffer" in public and emerge with credibility enhanced.Ken Bates, who as chairman and overlord of Stamford Bridge has tended to fall out with his managers on a more permanent basis, values Rix's input so highly that he recently gave him a four-year contract.Initially taken on at Stamford Bridge as youth-team coach during Glenn Hoddle's spell in charge, the 40-year-old former Arsenal and England midfielder not only survived the departures of Hoddle and Ruud Gullit but grew in influence.
With barely 20 minutes to go before extra time would be necessary, Rix had called him over to the bench to say that they needed to make a change up front. The snag was that he felt the player- manager ought to come off. There have to be some perks to being manager, so the Italian told his assistant: "Don't even think about it." Soon afterwards, Rix unilaterally sent Gianfranco Zola on for Tore Andre Flo. Chelsea's coach had just engaged in a forceful exchange of opinions, shrugs and finger-jabbing with Gianluca Vialli Turning away, Rix gritted his teeth and threw back his head. All that was missing was the sardonic cry of "Oh thank you, God, thank you so very much." Later, as Chelsea celebrated their 1-0 victory over VfB Stuttgart in the European Cup-Winners' Cup final, Vialli explained the background to their full and frank discussion. Juve are clearly stronger and more creative, with the two French players, Zinedine Zidane and Didier Deschamps, outstanding this season. Real will have to rely a lot on their own French import, Christian Karembeu, who, as a former Sampdoria player, knows a good deal about Juve.In attack, Raul needs to be at his exciting best to avoid being upstaged by Del Piero. His scoring touch deserted him early in the new year but in recent matches it seems to have returned.
Only 20, he plays alongside the man who could be Real's saviour on the night, Morientes, who has been making up for Raul's lack of goals.Morientes came from Zaragoza last year and by becoming something of a "super sub" immediately made life difficult for the existing strikers. He then established his international credentials by scoring with his first shot in his debut against Sweden in March. With the World Cup close, he believes this could be his dream season So does Del Piero.. FOR one heated moment in Stockholm, Graham Rix turned into Basil Fawlty. Not that they are without weaknesses.Real will be hoping Juve will have one of their generous days when the defence looks vulnerable, even to modest attacks.