Chelsea striker Didier Drogba admits that the club are in 'a difficult moment' but says that the Blues' players must unite in their backing of under-fire manager Andre Villas-Boas.
Chelsea face a crucial match against Valencia in the Champions League on Tuesday and go into the game with dressing-room disharmony the hot topic at Stamford Bridge. Nicolas Anelka and Alex have asked to be placed on the transfer list, while Frank Lampard showed obvious anger at being substituted in the weekend's 3-0 win at Newcastle.
However, Drogba insists that, with Manchester City to follow the Valencia game, Chelsea must stick together to overcome their problems.
"You have to remember it's the manager's first season in the Premier League, it's not easy for him and it isn't easy for the players or the club," said Drogba. "But everything is coming together for the manager. He can deal with any pressure. You don't rise to his level in coaching if you are not strong.
"Yes we've been in a difficult moment but you have to stick together and make sure that, when we are on the pitch, we are all pulling in the same direction. That's what we are doing right now and it's great to see. Against Newcastle we looked more like the Chelsea of old, doing the simple things well. You create your own luck sometimes but that only comes from the whole team being in a really positive state of mind. We'll have more bad moments but, if we stay together, good things will come along."
Having already claimed that this will be his final season at Stamford Bridge, Drogba is keen to seal progress to the next round of the Champions League. The Blues can get through with a win, but they must hope that Leverkusen overcome Genk.
"We face Valencia with confidence," he said. "It's these type of games you just love as a player. When I was a kid I used to watch huge matches like this, dreaming that I would one day play in them.
"It's going to be very exciting. Yes, the pressure is on us, we normally don't have too many problems in the group stages but this is why people love football. It's going to be tough, certainly a different situation from what we're used to, but in a way it will be just like some of the huge Champions League games we've had in recent years, the matches we played against Liverpool in the semi-finals, matches with so much tension around when it gets to kick-off. We've had challenges before and this is a new one. I'm ready to attack it."
Winger Florent Malouda also said that Chelsea will go into their clash with Valencia with a positive mindset.
"We have done a big mistake in Germany against Leverkusen and we have to correct that at home in front of our fans," the Frenchman told Sky Sports News. "We want to have our fans behind us. That is what we need at the moment.
"We don't think about defeat. We have a positive way of thinking. What we are looking for is a victory to qualify. Every time we start a game it is to win, so we are not thinking about this scenario."
Villas-Boas, himself, accepted that Tuesday could prove the turning point for Chelsea's season. "We've had a bad run of results recently that we want to invert and we have a major game on Tuesday," he said. "We have to be up to our best. It will require a major physical effort but, if we go past Valencia, we will set the right emotional stimulus."