Andres Villas-Boas is committing managerial suicide by attempting to take revenge on the Chelsea old guard which backfired spectacularly when they were beaten 3-1 by Naples in the Champions League last 16 first round clash on Tuesday.
When details of Chelsea's team sheet were revealed there was widespread disbelief.
Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp said: "It has all the makings of managerial suicide."
Graeme Souness added: "If Cole is 90 per cent, he's still better than Bosingwa at 100 per cent."
Chelsea players were up in arms against the young Portuguese manager even before their Naples defeat for relegating Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard and Michael Essien were dumped to the bench.
But it was a gamble which he may have to rue after having lost skipper John Terry for up to two months just hours before kick-off.
Villas-Boas was left clinging to his job desperately as Chelsea threw away the lead given them by Juan Mata to slip to a nightmare defeat.
Two goals from Ezequiel Lavezzi either side of an Edinson Cavani strike left Chelsea facing a second leg mountain to climb at Stamford Bridge next week but it was the selection decisions that put Villas-Boas under fire.
It was payback for criticising Villas-Boas who held a clear-the-air meeting on Sunday to get their honest opinions on their poor results.
Lampard and Essien were forthright in their views — but it was Cole who spoke out most strongly, according to The Sun.
The England left-back told AVB: "I came here to win medals and trophies, but I'm never going to do that with your tactics".
Cole is also unhappy as he feels "like a robot" with Villas-Boas telling him exactly how to play, rather than giving him freedom.
Chelsea's players were infuriated when their three team-mates were put on the bench for speaking out ahead of the Champions League clash.
The boss even told Cole "you made it personal".
England star Cole was further angered when he saw his manager on TV claiming that he had been left out over concerns that he was not fully fit.
Cole insisted he was 100 per cent ready to play and has the last laugh when he was called into action after 12 minutes following an injury to Jose Bosigwa while Lampard came on late in the match.
Villas-Boas did not attempt to explain his team selection and insisted he would be in charge for the second leg.
"Whatever explanations I gave you would be fantastic if we'd won but are now useless given the result of the game, so there's no point," said the Chelsea manager.
"We wanted two hard-working midfielders sitting in front of the defence. That's not to say that Lamps could not do it, for sure he could, but that was the decision we took.
"It was technical decisions. You can have your opinion but it was based on what was the best team in my thoughts.
"I had a conversation with Ashley and Frank. Normally, through the players that they are and the players with the experience they have, they felt they could have helped the team.
"That's perfectly understandable. Of course, they were disappointed but they were decisions they have to accept and move on."
Whether Lampard in particular will "accept and move on" remains to be seen.