Cech vows that Chelsea will get another shot at Club World Cup
PETR Cech told his Chelsea team-mates it was up to them to prove they had not blown their only chance of Club World Cup glory following their shock final defeat to Corinthians.
Yesterday's 1-0 loss in Yokohama saw the Blues waste what could prove a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be officially recognised as champions of the world.
No sooner had they left the field than cracks appeared to emerge between those Chelsea players for whom the Club World Cup meant absolutely everything - namely their Brazilian imports - and those who clearly still see it as something of an ugly sister to the Champions League.
Fortunately, even the latter group will have little trouble motivating themselves to regain the club's real Holy Grail of the European Cup, which would guarantee them another world title shot.
But having already suffered the embarrassment of Champions League elimination this season, it will be at least another two years before Chelsea are back where they were last week.
Goalkeeper Cech told Chelsea TV: "I said to the guys on the pitch, 'Now, it's only up to us'.
"If we want to have another chance, we need to qualify for next year's Champions League.
"We will try to win it, and then we can come to the same tournament again and have another go.
"So, it is the only way."
He added: "It's hard to take but this is exactly football.
"You have a lot of joy. Sometimes, you have a lot of disappointment."
The philosophical response to yesterday's defeat by Cech and other Chelsea players was in contrast to the tears shed by Brazilian team-mates David Luiz and Ramires over a tournament that is in their blood.
It certainly explains quotes attributed to fringe man Lucas Piazon, said to have claimed only the Blues' Brazilians genuinely cared about the Club World Cup.
However, despite being outplayed and outmuscled yesterday, Chelsea's performance was anything but callous.
Interim manager Rafael Benitez even got Juan Mata and Eden Hazard working as hard going backwards as they do going forwards - something Roberto Di Matteo never managed.
And had stricken captain John Terry and former striker Didier Drogba been playing instead of Gary Cahill and Fernando Torres, Chelsea probably would have won.
Victory would have also made the arduous trip to and from Japan worthwhile, despite the Club World Cup adding to the punishing schedule that could further derail their season.
Defeat simply made it even harder for Benitez to lift his players physically and mentally for Wednesday night's Capital One Cup trip to Leeds and a Barclays Premier League title race in which they are now 13 points adrift of leaders Manchester United To make matters worse, Chelsea look set to be without both Terry and Cahill at Elland Road after the latter's late sending off yesterday.
FIFA confirmed Cahill would serve a one-match ban, although there remained a chance today that could even be extended to two.
Benitez said on Saturday that Terry would still not be fit to return from his knee problem against Leeds, leaving Luiz and Branislav Ivanovic as his only fit senior centre-halves.
Having already surrendered four trophies before Christmas this season - surely unprecedented in the history of English football - Chelsea will be desperate not to suffer a third elimination in a fortnight against one of their arch-rivals.
While it is far too soon for the club's new breed to be developing a complex about their repeated failures on the big stage, it is becoming a concern.
Unlike Arsenal, Chelsea will act to ensure that does not spiral out of control by actively seeking to reinforce in January what has been allowed to become a small squad.
They have been linked again with Everton's Marouane Fellaini, while they were given a first-hand look at one reported transfer target yesterday when Paulinho helped Corinthians to what was a deserved win.
The midfielder, who has previously been pursued by Inter Milan and is said to be on Manchester City's radar, insisted afterwards he had no intention of leaving the new world champions.
"I'm staying at Corinthians," he told Esporte iG.
"There were lots of rumours that I could possibly leave the club, that there are talks, but I have never been aware of anything concrete, apart from Inter Milan, which everyone knows about."