Rafa Benitez has warned Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich that his squad is too small to compete for multiple trophies.
After winning the FA Cup and Champions League last season, Chelsea have had a busy and as yet unsuccessful campaign this time around, having already lost out in the Community Shield, UEFA Super Cup, Champions League, Club World Cup and Capital One Cup.
The fixture congestion will persist for the foreseeable future at least, with the Blues - whose priority is a top-four finish in the Premier League - taking on Brentford in the FA Cup this weekend and then beginning their Europa League campaign against Sparta Prague next month.
Benitez has come under fire for his policy of rotating players, but the Spaniard maintains that it is the lack of strength in depth that is hampering the club’s chances of success this season.
“We cannot rest too many players because our squad is not that big in certain positions,” he said. “I had a good conversation about this with the owner the other day. I gave my opinion, he listened to me, but I have to concentrate on the team.
“I have to play Frank Lampard and Ramires all the time because we have problems with injuries and suspensions and we have two players at the African Nations Cup. We have had nine games a month since I came here and the players are a little tired. You can really see the difference when players are allowed to have a rest.
“If you have a big squad you can keep the level when you play in a cup competition. We will try to strike the right balance.”
Benitez said he would “have to concentrate on football and the game and tactics” but made repeated references to the lack of depth in his squad.
It was suggested to the Spaniard that he was effectively saying he did not have enough options in his squad, to which he replied: “Yeah, I know. When I talked with them [the board], I gave them my opinion and the club, they listened to me. They gave me their opinion, so we share opinions and we have these conversations and that's it.”
Chelsea were criticised for their inability to force a goal in either leg of their Capital One Cup semi-final defeat to Swansea, but Benitez suggested he was unable to show tactical flexibility due to the players at his disposal.
“We were thinking about it in the last game, depending on the score, how to approach it,” he said “You have Mata, Hazard, Oscar - they don't play long balls and win second balls. Torres isn't a target man, so you have to try and play quickly. When the players are rested the tempo of the game is higher. When they are tired we have more problems.
“With the players you have you can manage the shape of the team, but the style has to be playing good football on the floor with pace and a high tempo. It's what we have.”
Chelsea have been linked with Corinthians midfielder Paulinho, among others, but the Brazilian side have said the Blues have not yet made any concrete bids.
Director of football Roberto de Andrade told reporters: "I can assure you we have not received any offers from Italy, nor from Chelsea, for our player.”