Carlo defends struggling Blues
Lee Bowyer's first goal in nearly 12 months doomed Chelsea to successive league defeats for the first time in four and a half years. It followed on from their home mauling by Sunderland last weekend and now they only lead Manchester United on goal difference. But a defiant Ancelotti was full of praise for his team's performance against Birmingham. The Italian said: "I've already said to the players 'don't lose confidence because you played good football.' The result is frustrating but they deserved to win. "The team didn't play well against Sunderland and this result is not good but we didn't deserve to lose. "We didn't win because we were unlucky and because Ben Foster (Birmingham goalkeeper) played a good game. "We have to take confidence from the way we played. It is just the result that was disappointing." Ancelotti added: "It is a strange Premier League this season. There are a lot of opportunities for teams to close the gap at the top. We are losing opportunities but so are other teams. "It is a more difficult competition this season because more teams believe in themselves. "A month ago I said when we were doing well that there would be difficult moments ahead. This is one of them. "But if we keep playing like that then we will win games." Ancelotti refused to blame the departure of his assistant Ray Wilkins for Chelsea's slide in fortunes. He will also make no comment on Wilkins' claim today that he had been unfairly dismissed. He said: "The fact that Ray had gone did not affect things today. As regards his statement, I don't have any comment on that." Birmingham boss Alex McLeish rang the praises of Foster who put his mistake against France when on England duty behind him with a string of superb saves. He said: "I've always said a good keeper is paramount. He can win you championships, earn you points, save you points, or keep your team in the division. "Ben has been superb for us. I thought the criticism of him with England was a bit harsh. "He made some great saves today and in other games and has been on top form since he came here." McLeish admits Birmingham were due a slice of good fortune after being under pressure for the majority of the game. He said: "We got a bit of luck but I would say that in recent weeks we have deserved to win games which never went our way. "We have had plenty of bad luck this season so far. Maybe we got a bit of luck today." Birmingham climbed out of the bottom three into 12th spot as a result of this third win of the campaign. McLeish said: "There is paranoia when you are in the bottom three and so much fickleness in the game. "It is November, not the end of the season, but you just have to accept all the things that are said and get on with it."