Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has moved to repair his strained relationship with Carlo Ancelotti.
The manager had considered his position at the club following Abramovich's sudden decision to sack assistant manager Ray Wilkins and promote chief scout Michael Emenalo.
Chelsea's shocking loss of form in the Premier League, where they have lost three of their last four games, is another serious concern. The champions will once again be without John Terry, Frank Lampard and Michael Essien for tomorrow's trip to Newcastle United, where defeat would constitute a genuine crisis, for Chelsea have not lost three successive league matches since October 1999, when Gianluca Vialli was manager.
Ancelotti said yesterday that far from being distant and removed, Abramovich has been supportive during this period of turmoil. The Russian billionaire even told Ancelotti that performances are more important than results, and said he was "happy" with last weekend's 1-0 defeat to Birmingham City, in which Chelsea had 31 efforts on goal but failed to score.
Ancelotti said: "When the team plays good football, Roman is happy. He was happy after the game against Birmingham. The owner doesn't put me under pressure. He always supports me and is supporting me also in this moment."
Ancelotti held a meeting with the players before last weekend's defeat at Birmingham, to clear the air and hear their grievances. He said he had been relieved to hear they pretty much agreed with him.
"We had a meeting. I wanted the players to give their opinions about the moment. It was a clear meeting. They spoke with objective thoughts. I was happy with that because I agreed with their opinions," he said.
Ancelotti promised to work harder and remain more focused to ensure Chelsea's slump ends soon. "We didn't do well in the last three or four games, I agree. I agree with the criticism. There's good reason to be critical after these results," he said. "I have to use all my experience to give more opportunities to the players to do better."
Terry's painful nerve injury is improving and Ancelotti said he hopes his captain will be able to return next week against Everton, particularly as fellow centre-half Alex will soon have surgery on his knee which will rule him out for six to eight weeks. Ancelotti said: "Alex doesn't feel good. We decided to schedule the surgery for next week after the Newcastle game. Terry has improved over the last days. The pain is going down and next week he should be able to play."
The loss of Terry, Lampard and Essien, who is suspended, has increased the burden on the likes of Ramires, the £17m Brazilian who has failed to justify his price tag. Ancelotti said: "He's 23 years old and has changed country, language, everything. So it's not easy to show immediately your quality. [Michel] Platini when he came to Italy, the first six months were very poor. It's normal. You have to have time to adapt."