Andre Villas-Boas retains title hopes
Andre Villas-Boas declared that his team can still win the Barclays Premier League after ending a period of "chaos" with a much-needed victory over Wolves at Stamford Bridge.
The 34-year-old still admits he is under pressure to lift the Londoners up the table, however, and thinks next month could be key to his future and that of the club.
Chelsea had dropped to fifth in the table after losing two of their previous three league games – a run that included reverses against rivals Liverpool and Arsenal – but they returned to winning ways at home today thanks to goals from John Terry, Daniel Sturridge and Juan Mata.
The team’s performance was rusty at times, and Wolves’ poor marking made the task much easier, but the Portuguese did take some encouragement from ending the club’s losing streak.
Villas-Boas’ team remain in fifth and trail leaders Manchester City by nine points having played one game more, but he still thinks catching Roberto Mancini’s team is possible if they now go on a run.
"I think we can (win the title). We have most of the same players (who have won the title before)," Villas-Boas said.
"We have the talent and belief will be the last thing to die with us.
"Man City play tomorrow in a difficult game (at Liverpool).
"It’s difficult for us to look at a distant leader.
"In the past we have seen examples of us shortening distances but for that example to serve as inspiration we need to get the winning streak back like we did last year."
Villas-Boas had spent most of this week trying to shake off the comparisons with the winter slump the club endured under Carlo Ancelotti last season – a slump that eventually cost the Italian his job.
Ancelotti did manage to engineer an upturn in form after the new year, however, and Villas-Boas now hopes his side can emulate that run now after finally putting an end to arguably his most tumultuous week in charge at Stamford Bridge.
"In my opinion chaos happened. We were exposed a couple of times with group mistakes (in recent games)," Villas-Boas said.
"Now we have to correct them to make sure we are on the right track. From now on so it’s a good challenge for the team and hopefully we can now respond in this period.
"December will be important. We have a Champions League fixture still to play but the rest of the games are in the Premier League and this month will play a big part in what happens in the league.
"We have some important games. Newcastle away, Manchester City at home and Tottenham away, these are difficult games but can make a difference for us in the table."
Chelsea began nervously against Wolves this afternoon, but Terry eased the tension in west London by beating his marker to nod home Mata’s cross to put the Blues ahead in the sixth minute.
Sturridge made it 2-0 just before the half hour after Mata wriggled past Ronald Zubar to supply the England striker, before the Spaniard rounded off an impressive personal performance by firing past Wayne Hennessey on the stroke of half-time following Ashley Cole’s cross.
Having made the worst start of any Blues boss in the Roman Abramovich era, Villas-Boas was under intense pressure before today’s game and he admits that pressure has not receded despite taking three points against Wolves.
"It does not take the pressure off me. We have to continue to grow as a team," Villas-Boas said.
"In recent games we did not deserve to lose, but it influences opinions and that is part of the job."
Wolves sit just above the relegation zone and have won just once in their last 11 games.
Manager Mick McCarthy was disappointed to see his side gift Chelsea a three-goal first half lead but was encouraged with the more confident display they showed in the second period.
"It was not good enough from us," McCarthy said.
"At half-time I asked them to salvage a bit of pride and self-respect.
"Our fans were fabulous. They paid £50 and at least we gave them something to cheer, although we did not brighten their experience too much, at least we gave them something to cheer about in the second half."