LONDON, April 12, 2010 (AFP) - John Terry has revealed Chelsea's stars held crisis talks with the club's management in a successful bid to get their Premier League title challenge back on track.
Just two weeks after Carlo Ancelotti's team looked in danger of fading away in the title race, the revitalised Blues can move four points clear at the top of the table with a win over Bolton at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday.
|John Terry (L) vies with Aston Villa's English striker Gabriel Agbonlahor (R) during the FA Cup semi-final football match at Wembley Stadium, London, on April 10, 2010. AFP PHOTO|
It is a remarkable transformation from the weary-looking group that crashed out of the Champions League against Jose Mourinho's Inter Milan and then dropped two vital points in a 1-1 draw at Blackburn.
That result left Chelsea four points behind Manchester United, but an open and honest meeting between the players, Ancelotti and his coaching staff after the Blackburn game has given Terry's men a new lease of life.
Now it is Sir Alex Ferguson's United who are wilting under the intense pressure of fighting for first place.
United's draw at Blackburn on Sunday has provided Chelsea with a golden opportunity to put distance between themselves and their rivals and Terry, whose team reached the FA Cup final with a 3-0 win over Aston Villa in Saturday's semi-final at Wembley, believes his club will take full advantage.
"A few weeks ago it didn't look as though we were in the running for anything really so we have turned it round," Terry said.
"We were obviously disappointed going out of the Champions League and our focus was no longer on that, it was on the league. We went to Blackburn hoping we could win and go to the top but we didn't.
"We didn't really show the fight and on the day Blackburn wanted it more than us. That was not acceptable. We had a little get-together, nothing too much, but since then we have been playing well and scoring lots of goals.
"We have got some big characters here, me, Lamps (Frank Lampard), Bally (Michael Ballack) and Petr Cech, those kind of players are worth their weight in gold at a bad time. Everyone spoke their mind, we got off our chests what we were feeling, and went again. It was as simple as that.
"I don't want to make a big thing of it. We had the discussion between the management and players and everyone spoke honestly. It was a chance for everyone to get things off their chest. It is important players speak their mind.
"We have got big characters around and we get up and back on the horse and go again."
Now Terry's eyes are on the double and the defender knows their destiny now lies in their own hands.
"Where we are in the league at the moment means it is down to us," he said. "We have got Bolton at home and they are always difficult, so every fixture is tough.
"But if we keep working like we did in the second half and have done in the last four or five weeks, there is every chance. It is in our hands."
Ancelotti's squad should be strengthened in the next week by the return from injury of England left-back Ashley Cole, while injured Ghana midfielder Michael Essien could also play again before the end of the season.
"We have had a lot of problems but we have never lost our confidence or optimism," Ancelotti said.
"I have a very good squad and I have some very good players. Until now, the team has done a good job.
"It could be a fantastic season for us. But we have won nothing yet."
Bolton are five points above the relegation zone and a shock win would virtually guarantee survival.
Defender Paul Robinson said: "You've got to go there and be optimistic. You can’t go to Stamford Bridge and be afraid; otherwise you're setting yourself up for a hiding to start off with."