RAFA Benitez today blamed Chelsea's trophy failures this season on a lack of depth and variety in their squad.
Interim Blues manager Benitez has come under increasing fire for his tactics and team selection after the club blew another golden chance of silverware in Wednesday's Capital One Cup semi-final exit at the hands of Swansea.
The Eden Hazard ball boy saga prevented what might have been even more damning headlines about Chelsea's limp performance during this week's second leg at the Liberty Stadium.
Having begun the season competing on seven fronts, the soon-to-be-deposed European champions have now surrendered five pieces of silverware, four of them in semi-finals, finals or one-off matches.
They now have only two trophies to play for - their Barclays Premier League title hopes are all but over - with Sunday's FA Cup fourth-round tie at Brentford now looking like a game they cannot afford to lose.
Asked if Chelsea no longer boasted the winning mentality that has characterised them during the Roman Abramovich era, Benitez said: "If you analyse the squad, if you analyse new players, new situation...
"The players that were here in the past, some of them are not here.
"So you have new players, they have to settle down in the Premier League, settle down in England. So, things are different, totally different.
"The money that was spent before and was spent recently is different, and the other teams are also stronger, they are spending money.
"When you analyse the stats, you have to put in context or they don't have any value."
He added: "It's not just about winning trophies. It's a key part of the game but the way and the tools that you have to win these trophies, that is the key."
Despite being personally accountable for Chelsea's failure to secure the two most winnable trophies in which they were involved this season - the Club World Cup and League Cup - and the demise of their league title challenge, Benitez insisted he had improved the squad since succeeding Roberto Di Matteo.
"The team is scoring more goals, conceding less goals," he said.
"You can see that we have more balance but still we have some problems that we have to manage in these games.
"We have the styles or the characteristics of our players, for playing in a way that you have to manage.
"Some games you cannot and you have to change, and we don't have the other options.
"It's a style of football that we have to create with the players that we have, so we have to carry on.
"We cannot play long balls and try to win second balls like other teams. We have players that they have quality and we have to try to play this style of football."