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Chelsea manager concedes title race

posted 19 Apr 2011, 08:24 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 19 Apr 2011, 08:26 ]

Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti says the task is too big for his team to retain their Premier League title but that they will be pushing hard to ensure qualification for next season's Champions League.

COBHAM, NEAR LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM (APRIL 19, 2011) REUTERS - Manager Carlo Ancelotti on Tuesday (April 19) conceded Chelsea's hopes of winning the English Premier League were over but he insisted they still had plenty to play for in their remaining six fixtures.

The Blues host Birmingham City on Wednesday (April 20) as they seek to maintain their position within the

top three which guarantees Champions League football next season.

Chelsea are currently third with 61 points, eight behind leaders and title favourites Manchester United.

While midfielder Frank Lampard believes they can still overhaul United, Ancelotti is not so optimistic and wants Chelsea to focus on finishing the season well.

"The gap doesn't allow us to think we can win the title because we are eight points behind Man United," Ancelotti told reporters at Chelsea's training base in Cobham, just outside of London.

"So it is better for us to think we should prepare well for the next game against try to win and to win the other five games."

If Chelsea fail to retain their Premiership title, many will point to a poor run of results last November and December where they won just two of nine league matches.

Ancelotti said the loss of two influential players during that period was significant.

"Without Lampard and without Drogba in the difficult moment, it was not easy to move on without these kind of players," the Italian added.

"And not just the technical quality but also as a personality, as a character."

Spaniard Fernando Torres remains scoreless since joining Chelsea in January and has become one of the most talked about players in the Premier League.

But Ancelotti insisted he was not worried and has backed Torres to score before the season ends.

"There were (have been) a lot of strikers that have lived in this moment in the past.

"The only way we can use it is to be positive, to remain confident in him and also himself, he has to do this."

Ancelotti also refused to be drawn any further about his future at the London club.

There has been speculation Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is lining up a replacement for Ancelotti, despite his first year sucess where he lead the Blues to the FA Cup and Premiership double.

But Ancelotti said he had not discussed anything with the players, whose sole focus is their performance on the field.

"They are working with me in this moment. Maybe they will work with me in the future, maybe they don't work in the future with me. They will work with another coach. But they are professional players and they know this."

Birmingham City have not won at Chelsea in 11 previous visits but are buoyed by recent form, particularly in last weekend's 2-0 win over Sunderland.

The League Cup winners are currently 14th in the table, five points above the relegation zone, but Ancelotti is expecting a difficult evening.

"They had a difficult moment but they have good momentum, they are playing well, they are winning.

"They are a little bit over the relegation positions. It will be a tough game but we have to be ready to win."