Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas feels that wherever his side finish up this English Premier League season, it will ‘not be good enough’.
After Saturday’s surprising 3-1 loss to Aston Villa at Stamford Bridge, Villas-Boas was forced to re-evaluate the goals of his side, stating that a top-four finish and Champions League qualification will be the new aim.
Didier Drogba had fired Chelsea into an early lead but a quick response from Stephen Ireland ensured the match would go down to a nervy finish, with the visitors scoring late goals through Stilyan Petrov and Darren Bent to seal a famous win.
“Our reality is a fourth place finish, but that’s not good enough,” Villas-Boas said.
“We will have to continue to pursue the best finish possible. It’s disappointing because in December all of the teams have dropped points. We spoke about how December could be decisive in the running of league.”
“What we regret is missing big opportunities to reduce the gap with the leaders. If it were a good month we would have been running for title. It’s a thin line.”
Villas-Boas’ men were booed off the pitch after the defeat that saw them drop to fifth, with just goal difference separating them from sixth-placed Liverpool.
The rookie Portuguese manager was not disappointed with the Chelsea fans, however, and added that he hoped good performances from his side could repay them.
“The fans have a right to show disappointment,” he said.
“We want to repay the fans their trust. They have been magnificent through this period.”
“They know they can make a difference and we need them with full belief. We will have to face our challenges in 2012 in a different way. There is no running away with excuses.”
Villa boss Alex McLeish was delighted with his men’s effort throughout the match, as they moved inside the top half of the table.
“We persevered and that was the great thing about our team performance today,” McLeish said.
“The players never gave up trying to create openings and get forward when the time was right.”
The Scot also dished out special praise to Ireland for his all-action display.
“All Villa fans will be delighted with Ireland’s performance because his running off the ball was great,” he said.
“His touch was great. His interception for the third goal was fantastic. He’s really good at that you know. He’s not so much a big heavy tackler, but he does read the game very, very well.”
“That’s his Manchester City form of two seasons ago and we need that from Stevie because he’s come to Villa as a big player and he hasn’t really justified himself, but today goes a long way towards that.”