Gary Cahill has given a frank assessment of Chelsea’s current situation, admitting they are at a crossroads and need to go down the right path sooner rather than later.
The Premier League champions have faced questions after losing their last two games – 3-0 at home to Bournemouth and then 4-1 at Watford on Monday.
Those results have also led to further speculation over the future of head coach Antonio Conte and how much longer he will be in charge of the club.
Ahead of Chelsea’s Monday Night Football clash with West Brom, Cahill said: “We are at that road where you can either turn left or right. We are on a road where the sooner we have the opportunity to go down the right path the better, because drawing on past experiences you have that feeling, it’s bubbling outside the club.
“In the club we are fine in terms of a tight group and everyone is together; there are no falling outs or clashes with the manager. We are fine, but we need to get back on that good path as soon as we possibly can.”
Cahill was particularly critical of Chelsea’s display in the immediate aftermath of their defeat at Watford, describing it as “abysmal”.
And, even after a few days off, he has not changed his view.
“I didn’t recognise us…I didn’t recognise myself in that performance, I am sure on reflection the lads would say the same,” he said. “Performance-wise that was one of my worst performances of my career. But you are talking about one game, so as well as being harsh on ourselves, and rightly so, it’s one game.
“We have had two bad results, which has caused a bit of atmosphere outside of the club, but it is only two results.”
We are at that road where you can either turn left or right…drawing on past experiences you have that feeling, it’s bubbling outside the club
Asked what he thinks are the reasons behind the most recent result, Cahill said: “I don’t know. It’s very hard to ever criticise our squad in terms of work-rate or commitment, is it a confidence thing? I don’t know. For whatever reason, that happened. But that’s football as well. It’s not like it’s the first time it’s ever happened in my career.
“You go into games where everything feels OK and all of a sudden things don’t go well. Against Watford, we had the sending off early doors, got to 1-1 and then fell apart. People say why, but we don’t know why. We worked hard and in the end we didn’t have enough and quality wise it wasn’t there. I had a very bad feeling after that game personally about my performance. You beat yourself up and then move on and get back on track.”
Chelsea now face a key period as they take on Manchester United and Manchester City in the next month, as well as Barcelona in the last 16 of the Champions League.
Cahill says Monday’s meeting with West Brom is “important” to get back on track.
“The last two results and the performances were not good enough. As players, and I am sure as the manager, the only thing you want is the next game to come around so you can try and put it right and we have that opportunity on Monday.
“I feel this month is very important. I think when we come out of the end of February it could shape the season. We realise that. If we get the right result and performance on Monday you start getting that confidence back into the team and keep building from there.”
Cahill also backed Chelsea to bounce back from their recent results and come out stronger on the other side.
“It does my head in sometimes that if you back at the record of this football club over the last 10 years, certainly the time I have been here, it’s been very successful,” he said. “You have results that are good, good, good and it’s normal and then it’s like ‘BANG’, everyone is on it.
“That’s life and the way this club has been since I first walked through the door. From the past, I can say you come through the other side and you go on to win things. I would urge the fans to be patient and nine times out of 10 we turn things around and the club is successful again. I don’t see this being any different. I hope it’s this season and we certainly have an opportunity to make it a good season in the end.”