BALLACK: "We felt they didn't have the mental strength, confidence"

If there was one thing that stood out from the game on Wednesday night for me it was Michael Ballack. His performance in midfield was outs...

If there was one thing that stood out from the game on Wednesday night for me it was Michael Ballack. His performance in midfield was outstanding. Always on the move into space to receive the ball, spraying the ball about the pitch, getting up to join the attack and he nearly scored twice. It was a sign of a man full of confidence who is in stark contrast to his "old friends" here at Chelsea.

Ballack has taken the time to speak of Chelsea at the moment and has urged the experienced players to come out fighting and show everyone else at the club the way. He said:
"I knew before the game that Chelsea were going through a difficult moment. But it was only when we were on the pitch that I could understand what was really happening. We could sense in every minute of the match that they were not as strong as they usually are. Even when they were 1-0 up we felt they didn't have the mental strength they normally have. We might have been lucky to score our winning goal in the last minute but we always believed we had a chance of doing that.

I am really surprised at what is happening at Chelsea and, even though it was a big victory for us, I'm not as happy as I would normally be because it was against many of my friends.

I know how quickly it can go against them at Chelsea. It is always difficult for any coach there but Villas-Boas had success at his last team, he is an ambitious young boss and I know he is a good guy.

At the moment it is not easy for Chelsea but it's not just about the coach. It's also about the players. They are the ones who have to get out of this situation.

I can only say what I see and clearly their results are not the best. With every defeat they are losing confidence. In situations like this, you have to go back to your roots and return to square one. But it's harder for Chelsea to do that because of the ambitions they have and they are not matching them.

There are still enough big, experienced international players in that dressing room and now is the time for them to do it. You can't just look at the young players and criticise them. This recovery has to come from the older, experienced guys.

It is still in their own hands. If they beat Valencia at home they will go through and I think they are strong enough to do that. But clearly it is not the best moment for them."
We really, really need to pick ourselves up starting tomorrow. Let's hope Ballack's words haven't fallen on deaf ears over at Cobham today!


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