With victories over Middlesbrough in the FA Cup and West Bromwich Albion in the league a solid response to the disappointment of defeat at Manchester City, Petr Cech has spoken about a week of important preparation for those games, and the benefit of views being aired.
As ever this season, the amount of time that could be spent on the training pitch was limited by the fixture schedule but with discussions taking place among the squad and coaching staff in the wake of the 2-0 defeat last Sunday, everyone was determined to do better and work out what was not right.
‘The mood was that we try to improve on the way we played at Man City because it was a poor performance,’ said Cech, looking back to the start of last week.
‘We worked all week to improve that and we did a professional job at Middlesbrough, and we wanted to carry that on to the West Brom game because we knew how important that game was, and we had a good performance.
‘We try to stick together, we try to find solutions and we try to work hard to go through the difficult moments.
‘We have had a lot of success thanks to the honesty and the open minds everybody has in the dressing room, because everybody should have a chance to express their opinion. If the players are not happy then in our dressing room we try to help everybody to be happy again and to be at the top and be good for the team.
‘If we think something is going wrong, people have the right to say it. Obviously we have only one boss who is the manager and it is up to him how he deals with the feedback, but it helps because communication is a big part of a football club and a football team, or any team, and if communication is wrong it can fall apart.’
Saturday’s 1-0 win over West Brom contrasted with defeat away to the Midlands side back in November, which was a game when Cech felt he had to have his say afterwards. He was not happy with the lack of control the team had on the match that afternoon.
‘It seemed we just played for fun with no kind of target,’ he recalled.
‘I was not happy with things we did on the pitch at that time but I think this week you could see that everybody was focused, the quality of the training was very good and it showed in the game as well. The most positive part was we carried it from the training ground to the game and we had some problems with that before.
‘On Saturday we took control of the game, created chances and the only problem was we didn’t finish the game off which made it a little harder for us in the last 10 minutes. West Brom have made progress with Steve Clarke and they had belief that they could get a goal, but overall our performance was good.’
Cech played his part in the victory with two late saves, one from a free-kick and then one from a deflection off Cesar Azpilicueta.
‘I had nothing to do for a part of the game but I kept my concentration and I am used to games like that. I am glad we got a clean sheet and that we won because by the 80th minute we should have been 3-0 or 4-0 up, but [West Brom keeper] Ben Foster made some brilliant saves and they had sometimes a bit of luck and that kept them in the game until the last minute.’
Cech echoed Rafael Benitez’s post-match thoughts that the fans at Stamford Bridge supported the players well on Saturday, and sees no problem with what was said during the week either.
‘The manager has a right to express his own opinion, as do the fans when they come to the game and the most important part is the people are still coming to support the team.
‘The main part is not the manager, it is not the players – the main part is the club and the club took on Rafa Benitez because they wanted to improve the situation and wanted to achieve the targets we had for this season.
‘So he is here to do his best and to help us as much as he can and we as players need to do the same. We need to try to win games, to work hard and try to move forward. We are Chelsea Football Club and we should be united – us, the manager, the fans, the coaching staff, the board, everybody – to achieve the targets and if we have a positive mood and this is happening, then it is even better.’