Chelsea in danger of facing a 'lost year', warns Cech
Published 21:37 25/03/12 By Martin Lipton
Petr Cech has warned Chelsea they are in danger of going through a “lost year” at Stamford Bridge.
Cech and his colleagues head to Portugal for their Champions League quarter-final clash with Benfica five points drift of fourth-placed Spurs and aware they may have to win the competition to qualify for next term.
And the Chelsea keeper, whose vital contributions prevented Tottenham claiming their first win at Stamford Bridge in 22 years, admitted the price of failure would be dramatic.
Cech said: “We have put ourselves in a difficult position. It is no longer only in our hands and if we’re not in the Champions League it would be a year lost in the progression of the club.
“You always have years when you go through the transition in the team and the team needs to be rebuilt, or you have changes in terms of managers and players.
“For a big club you can accept that the team does not win the league because it is in transition, but you can’t afford to slip out of the Champions League spots.
“Big teams are about the Champions League and the importance is that it is much better than the Europa League, because there are so many games. It is different.”
Liverpool’s experience of facing up to a third successive season outside the European elite after being automatic contenders for so long is a clear signal of what could happen, especially with UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules set to bite.
Cech added: “If it happens it is up to the club to make the right decisions.
“Liverpool had so many problems within the club, not really on the pitch, so that is why they kind of lost some time.
“This club has the structure but I believe that one season will make a difference, because it will slow down all the process of being a Champions League club and hunting for trophies.
“It will not be the end of Chelsea, though, because I believe that we will come back.”
Cech’s fears came as Didier Drogba, one of the heroes of the comeback win over Napoli, vowed Roberto Di Matteo’s Blues had shown they can do a job against the Portuguese outfit.
“With the players we have and the mentality we have here to fight - and fight until the last minute - we can do anything,” insisted Drogba. “Look at Napoli - there are a few teams that you know can do it in those situations and Chelsea is one of them.
“I believe that’s why we’ve had these moments in so many seasons: because we all believe we can do it and when we do something, we do it as a team, as a group.
“We started to believe a little bit more in ourselves. The only thing that that can change a dressing room is winning games and going on a good run of results. Even if you have the best atmosphere in the dressing room to begin with, when you lose games everyone will be down. That’s just human.”