Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti insists he is under no pressure from the club’s owner Roman Abramovich.
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The Blues boss has seen his side lose three of their last four Premier League games and will take his team to Newcastle on Sunday still missing the experience of John Terry, Frank Lampard and Michael Essien.
Terry, who initially thought the nerve problem in his leg could keep him out for months, is expected to return next week against Everton while central defender Alex will play against Newcastle before having an operation next week on his troublesome knee.
But while Ancelotti admits he felt under pressure when Chelsea lost to Inter Milan in the last 16 of the Champions League last season he maintains there has been no heat from Abramovich. The expectation comes from himself.
Ancelotti said: "The owner doesn’t put me under pressure. After the defeat against Inter it was normal to be under pressure because we didn’t reach our result in the Champions League.
"It wasn’t the owner who put me under pressure. He always supports me and is supporting me also in this moment.
"To be under pressure doesn’t mean I’m not safe. It’s normal to be under pressure. Under pressure I have more concentration.
"You have to look at the results. The results are not good and I have to take my responsibility and stay more in focus on my job.
"I have to use all my experience to give more opportunities to the players to do better."
By the time Chelsea kick-off against Newcastle they could have been leapfrogged at the top of the table by Manchester United, who face Blackburn at Old Trafford on Saturday.
But Ancelotti insisted: "We’re not concerned, but it would be better for everyone to stay top.
"A strong manager, a strong team, has to manage the pressure. It’s impossible to stay all the time at the top.
"Last year was the same, we went down but we reacted well and won the title at the end of the season."
Ancelotti was also boosted by the news that Frank Lampard will return to full training next week following his recurring groin problems while Yuri Zhirkov could be available for selection against Everton. Michael Essien, however, is suspended for the Newcastle match.
Ancelotti revealed he had held a meeting last week with the players at which they probed the reasons for their recent downturn in form and the fact that they have managed to score just once in four league games.
"It was a clear meeting," said Ancelotti. "They spoke with objective thoughts. I was happy with that because I agreed with their opinions.
"Last year the meeting was a bit different. We lost an important competition like the Champions League, the meeting had a different aim.
"We wanted to change direction, mentality, to focus the players on the Premier League. Last week the meeting was just to speak about football.
"I don’t think we’re lacking in motivation. We want to win the Premier League again and we want to win the Champions League.
"We still have that opportunity. We are in the last 16 in Europe and we’re top of the table. We didn’t do well in the last three or four games.
"I agree with the criticism. There’s good reason to be critical after these results."
Ancelotti, however, was confident enough to name his team to face Newcastle, explaining the thinking on the surgery scheduled for Alex.
He said: "Alex’s knee didn’t show a bad reaction after the last game. He trained today with the team in the tactical session, but he doesn’t feel good. So we decided to schedule the surgery for next week."