Chelsea responded to heavy criticism from their injured captain John Terry by ending their defence of the Champions League with their best performance in weeks.
Rafael Benitez’s side were eliminated despite their 6-1 demolition of Nordsjaelland – a first victory in six matches – because of an alarming slump in form which had allowed Juventus and Shaktar Donetsk to move out of range in Group E.
Chelsea have also slipped 10 points behind leaders Manchester United in the Premier League title race, prompting Terry to use his programme notes for tonight’s game to demand more “fight and desire” from his team-mates.
“Let’s not beat around the bush,” Terry wrote. “No wins in six games is simply not good enough and, since I have been here, I have not experienced a run like this. We, as players, have to stand up and take responsibility - stand up and stay together. We demand a lot of ourselves and we have to focus on rediscovering the winning habit.”
Terry was particularly upset with Chelsea’s second-half capitulation in Premier League defeat at West Ham last weekend. “We need to be stronger than that and we know we can’t let that happen again.
“Let’s show some fight and desire for our club and for the shirt. Players will come and go, but what must always remain is the spirit within this club; never give up and fight for every last thing.”
Terry’s team-mate, John Obi Mikel signed a new five-year contract at the club yesterday. The 25-year-old committed his future to the European champions until 2017 – a deal which would see him complete 11 years at Stamford Bridge.
Mikel has endured a rollercoaster season and still faces punishment from the Football Association for confronting Mark Clattenburg in the referees’ room after the October league defeat by Manchester United. The Nigeria midfielder, who started tonight’s match against Nordsjaelland, on the bench was furious after being told he had been called a “monkey” by Clattenburg – a claim the official was cleared of last month.