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Premier League

Blame the players says Ballack

Chelsea midfielder Michael Ballack insists the players should take the blame for Luiz Felipe Scolari's sacking.

The Brazilian was dismissed on Monday after a poor run of form, with Russia coach Guus Hiddink set to be confirmed as the club's new manager until the end of the season.

Germany captain Ballack is adamant Scolari cannot be held entirely accountable for the slump in form which has even put qualification for next season's Champions League at risk.

"It is a shame because he had not been with us for a long time," Ballack told German website www.sport1.de.

"Of course there was some criticism and we did not get the results we all would have wanted, but that is not the manager's fault but the team's.

"Something like this is always uncomfortable."

Should Hiddink's appointment be ratified, the Dutchman will be the fourth manager Ballack has played under at Stamford Bridge since joining in 2006, but despite the upheaval the German is still confident the club can challenge for silverware this season.

"I want to win the Champions League and play at the highest level and I can do that with Chelsea," he added.

"Last year we were level with Manchester United on points right to the end (in the Premier League) and we lost the (Champions League) final unluckily on penalties.

"This club has high ambitions and that is what I came here for."