New, higher mesh fences were being erected around Chelsea's training ground deep in the Surrey countryside yesterday, but any suggestion of a siege mentality at the club following their shock FA Cup defeat by Barnsley was swiftly allayed by the comments of their manager, Avram Grant.
The man whose future is being questioned just six months after he took over from Jose Mourinho came out fighting, insisting he was taking Chelsea in the right direction and adding that the players had responded positively to their "embarrassing" defeat.
Having lost just four of his 38 games in charge, the first of them, at Manchester United, just a few days after filling the void left by Mourinho, Grant strongly defended himself against any suggestion that he was not able to motivate the players sufficiently for big games – a notion that has been raised in the wake of last month's Carling Cup final defeat by Spurs.
"We are very disappointed to have lost on Saturday, even if we're in good company with the other 18 clubs in the Premier League who have gone out," said Grant, who clearly feels that Chelsea earn a disproportionate amount of media coverage in defeat compared to rivals such as Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool. "I'm not under any more pressure than I was before, and I'm not under any less. Any loss at Chelsea is like a world war. But you can look at it from a negative side, or from a positive.
"We won nine games in a row but I still told you it was impossible that we'd win every match. I've spoken with the players. They're very disappointed. I told them I took the responsibility. They said they took the responsibility also.
"The players were very hurt. They're very proud, and it was embarrassing losing a game like that. But it doesn't happen very much for us. We've won 80 per cent of the League and Champions League games.
"In the Cup, you can't fix it if things don't go for you. You're out. I want to win a trophy this season. I wanted it before. The pressure to win trophies is better than the pressure at the bottom of the League. I don't want that. This is a good life. But it's more than this. It's about taking the team forward. We're doing a good job here, winning a lot of games and playing a lot of good matches.
"We need to be more consistent but, sometimes, when you change to a different style of football there are problems in the way."
Grant confirmed that he had spoken to the club's owner Roman Abramovich, in the wake of Saturday's quarter-final defeat. "He was disappointed, like all of us," Grant said. "No more than this. I'm not thinking about this. I'm in a big club.
"A big club doesn't change targets because we've lost matches or we win nine games in a row. We share the same vision. I came here to take this team forward and that's what I'm going to do."Reuse content