Roberto Di Matteo has backed the decision of the Chelsea board to allow John Terry to retain the club captaincy despite being found guilty of using racially abusive language.
Terry missed Chelsea's 4-2 win at Tottenham, which preserved their unbeaten start to the Premier League season and maintained their four-point lead at the top of the table, as he started the four-match ban imposed following his clash with QPR's Anton Ferdinand last October. But Blues chairman Bruce Buck revealed before the game that the club's internal punishment of Terry would extend only to a "very heavy fine" and not see him stripped of the captaincy.
Whilst insisting the decision lay with the board, Di Matteo endorsed the move.
"The board made a decision, and I respect the board's decision and I support that decision," he said. "Ultimately they are the board, and they make the decisions in the best interests of the club. I have an input and we had conversations, but they decide."
Gary Cahill, scorer of his side's first goal after being drafted in as Terry's replacement at centre-back, insisted his teammate has the full backing of the squad.
"It's fantastic. We'd didn't expect any other outcome," said Cahill, who signed for Chelsea during Andre Villas-Boas' tenure. "He's been the captain for many years. and long may it continue. We're happy with that."
Juan Mata, who scored twice against Spurs on Saturday, said of Terry: "For me he is a great teammate and we are always happy to share our training sessions and games with him."
Villas-Boas admitted that the Blues had been the stronger side, citing the contributions of Mata, Eden Hazard and Oscar as the difference between the teams as Tottenham suffered their first defeat since the opening day of the season.
"The game turned on individual brilliance from Hazard, Juan Mata and Oscar, who were brilliant," said Villas-Boas, who joined Spurs during the summer.