Ancelotti reveals Chelsea confidence issues
Carlo Ancelotti has admitted there was a problem with the atmosphere at Chelsea during their worst run in the Premier League for almost 15 years.
And the Blues boss believes last week's victory over Manchester United could be what finally resurrects his side's stuttering season. Ancelotti has suggested he deliberately played down the effect Chelsea's alarming pre-Christmas slump had on his players, probably to avoid shattering their fragile confidence.
But in the wake of Tuesday night's comeback against United, the Italian felt it was time to acknowledge just how low spirits had sunk at Stamford Bridge. "A lot of times in the past, I've said the atmosphere is good," he said.
"Sometimes it wasn't really good because the players had more difficulties to train, with less confidence. Now the confidence has improved with the results. The atmosphere is really good. The players are training well with confidence and ability, so I have confidence in the future."
He added: "When you win against United, it means you're good enough to play against stronger teams. So this result obviously improves your confidence."
However, Chelsea have endured more than one false dawn this season, including December's victory over Bolton and January's hat-trick of Premier League victories, which were followed by another demoralising defeat to Liverpool. "Everyone had confidence going into that Liverpool game, but we lost it and the confidence went down," said Ancelotti, who believes failure to beat United might have proven fatal. "If we were not able to win this game, it could have been a problem in the future."
Anything other than a victory would have all but ended Chelsea's faint hopes of retaining the Premier League title, as well as casting doubt on their ability to win the UEFA Champions League. Ancelotti accepts they must now go on a winning run, starting with tonight's game at Blackpool, who he is refusing to take lightly. "It's the wrong way to prepare by thinking it will be easier against Blackpool than United," Ancelotti said.
"We have to be more in focus against them than against United. It's easy to stay focused against United because there's so much attention on the game, and a lot of pressure. There is less pressure against Blackpool, so my aim is to maintain their focus."
Ancelotti has already decided whether to recall Didier Drogba for tonight's game, with the striker having spent the last two matches on the bench. The Italian refused to reveal whether Drogba would start but did confirm he had met with owner Roman Abramovich in the wake of Tuesday's game against United. Joking "it was a good time" for Abramovich to pay a visit, he added: "He was happy with the performance."
Ancelotti is also looking happier himself than in recent weeks. He added: "When I wake up in the morning I'm always happy, just because I wake up. I feel good."