Carlo Ancelotti admitted that Chelsea's shock 3-0 home defeat to Sunderland yesterday was the worst result in his time at the club after Steve Bruce's team defied odds of 250-1 to record the surprise result of another unpredictable Premier League weekend.
The Chelsea manager lost John Terry to a glute injury yesterday morning and saw a makeshift central defence of Branislav Ivanovic and Paulo Ferreira ripped to shreds by Sunderland. There were goals from Steve Bruce loan signings Nedum Onuoha and Danny Welbeck and the sixth goal of the season from record signing Asamoah Gyan.
Chelsea conceded their first goal at home in the league in 916 minutes when Onuoha scored the first goal five minutes before first-half injury time and Ancelotti conceded his team were simply never in the game after that.
He said: "I think so [that it was the poorest performance since taking over in June 2009]. We hadn't lost with this result at home. The performance was poor, but in football it can happen if you're not at your best and don't play with your best mentality. We have to come back, stay focused on our results – it could only be one day that is poor.
"All the things were wrong: we didn't play how we wanted to, Sunderland showed fantastic spirit and played better. We were not able to come back into the game. It was a bad day. We were not able to play our football for 90 minutes. Just 15 minutes in the first half. Everything was difficult. We have to look forward now; it was a strange performance."
The home crowd booed Ancelotti's decision to substitute Florent Malouda before the hour, then responded with cheers when the £18m Brazilian Ramires was brought off later in the second half. "I think if you look at the game, a lot of players didn't play at their best," Ancelotti said. "I don't want to speak just about Ramires. It was a poor game as a team. Nobody played at his best. I didn't shout in the dressing room at the end. I want to speak to my players without emotion."
After four days in which Ancelotti has seen his assistant, Ray Wilkins, dismissed by the club's board, the Chelsea manager was again forced to defend the effect of the decision on his club, who still lead the table by two points from Arsenal in second place. "I don't think [the sacking of Wilkins had an effect]," he said. "We lost because Sunderland played better than us, not because of that. We played our worst game of the season."
It was the heaviest league defeat for Chelsea since Roman Abramovich bought the club seven years ago. For Sunderland, it maintains their record of not having lost this season to any of the teams who finished last season in the top seven places. Steve Bruce's side are now sixth in the Premier League just two weeks after their 5-1 derby defeat to Newcastle.
"Two weeks ago we were hanged, drawn and quartered and we were looking for a response," Bruce said. "But we've played well against all the top teams. We were humped by seven here last year. It's not every day you come to Chelsea and win 3-0. The ups and downs are horrific, so we'll enjoy a glass or two tonight and take it easy."
Describing it has his proudest day as Sunderland manager, Bruce paid tribute to Welbeck. "Danny has played well," he said. "The sad thing for me is how much will it cost now to buy them [Welbeck and Onuoha]? They're two loan players who have done fantastically well. We'd love them to stay. We've got them for a year, and we'll speak to their respective clubs nearer the time. They're exactly what we're looking for."
Onuoha said that defeat to Newcastle had proved "a humiliation". He said: "It was a low point in our careers. But we had to draw a line underneath that." The victory was Bruce's first as a manager in London for six years.