Andre Villas-Boas believes that the mounting anxiety at Stamford Bridge is inhibiting his attempts to rectify his side's abject home form, with the Chelsea manager acutely aware of the need for his team's performances to improve sharply if their season is not to fall apart before Christmas.
The Portuguese has long acknowledged how crucial December is likely to be to his hopes of enjoying a successful first season in England – with three Premier League games against fellow members of the top six, as well as a Champions League tie with Valencia – and he fears the concerns of the club's fans may now prove counter-productive.
"At the moment, at home, we have just not been good enough," said Villas-Boas. "I think we need to get our fans behind us when we play at home. We need to get the emotions right. I know, and you can feel, that Stamford Bridge has become anxious about Chelsea playing at home, but we need their full support. That is the only way you can build the atmosphere to take us through this period.
"For our [title] challenge to be alive we need to make the most of the December fixtures. If we do that, we will be back on track. In the situation we are in, 10 points behind, it can invert what can happen in four months' time."
The Portuguese seemed to confirm that Fernando Torres, who was anonymous against his former club, will not be asked to lead the line when his side travel to Newcastle United on Saturday, admitting that the Spain international needs "confidence" and "time" but confirming he would return to his favoured 4-3-3 formation at St James' Park and acknowledging that Didier Drogba is exhibiting "good signs" of returning to his best.
Kenny Dalglish, his counterpart, has no such concerns; the Liverpool manager's fears are limited to a knee injury to his midfield lynchpin, Lucas Leiva, which will be examined today.
The Scot also paid tribute to Craig Bellamy, who played less than 48 hours after the death of his close friend Gary Speed. "To come back and play like that speaks volumes for him," he said.Reuse content