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Page last updated at 13:07 GMT, Saturday, 11 December 2010

Ray Wilkins backs Chelsea to overcome their poor spell

Carlo Ancelotti
Ancelotti and Wilkins oversaw a Premier League and FA Cup double in 2010

Former Chelsea assistant manager Ray Wilkins has backed the Blues to reverse an alarming slump in form and get their title defence back on track.

The reigning champions are third in the table having taken two points from a possible 12 since Wilkins left and face a tough trip to Tottenham on Sunday.

"I honestly believe they'll turn it around," Wilkins, who was sacked on 11 November, told BBC Radio 5 live.

"The next three games are a very, very important period for Chelsea."

If Wilkins' old side win at White Hart Lane they will go top of the table, above Manchester United and current leaders Arsenal, who meet at Old Trafford on Monday.

Chelsea then play two more matches which could have a significant impact on the title race, hosting United on Sunday 19 December and travelling to Arsenal on Monday 27 December.

Carlo Ancelotti's men come into this critical run of fixtures in poor form after defeats by Sunderland and Birmingham and draws with Newcastle and Everton.

Their most recent match saw them beaten by Marseille in the Champions League on Wednesday night, although they had already qualified for the knockout stage.

"When you're used to winning all the time it's a kick up the backside when it doesn't all go your way," said Wilkins, who joined Chelsea's coaching staff for a second time in 2008.

"These things can happen and that's what makes our game the best in the world. The results will take care of themselves.

"Yes they have lost a lot of points in that period [since my departure] but they're not massively away from Manchester United or Arsenal.

"They start at probably the best attacking team in the country in Tottenham. If Chelsea are not up for it, it could be another defeat for them, but Tottenham do concede.

"Then it's United at Stamford Bridge and then Arsenal, so these three games are of paramount importance and if they come out with a decent batch of points they'll be right up there again.

"It will be a very difficult period for Carlo if those results weren't to go as he would like."

The futures bright

Ancelotti has come under pressure during Chelsea's disappointing sequence but on Friday the Italian insisted he does not fear for his job after speaking with owner Roman Abramovich.

Many have pointed to Wilkins' dismissal as the key factor behind the recent on-field problems, yet the former England midfielder was quick to suggest there was no correlation.

"That's all it is [a coincidence]," he stated. "I know the quality that's in the dressing room. They've had a few injury problems and suspensions.

"The injury problems aren't coming to normal footballers, they're coming to the likes of Frank Lampard - 20 goals a season from midfield for the last six or seven years - and Michael Essien, suspended for three games.

"These are two powerhouses who would get into the midfield of any team in the world. They're going to be sadly missed."

Wilkins described Ancelotti as a "very good friend" and pointed out that the club's decision to relieve him of his duties was not driven by the manager but Abramovich.

"There was no real explanation as to why I've been dismissed, only that Roman wanted some change," continued Wilkins.

It was a privilege to work with these guys, they've got some of the top players in world football playing there and they shouldn't be languishing where they are at the moment

Ray Wilkins

"When you've spent £750-800m you're entitled to make that change when you wish to make it and unfortunately I was the guy that went.

"But that's his prerogative, he made that decision and I wish them the best of luck.

"It came as a bit of a bolt out of the blue but never be surprised by what happens in football because these things do rear their ugly head now and then.

"Unfortunately I was on the receiving end of it. I'm OK now, I'm over it and just cracking on."

Wilkins, 54, enjoyed a distinguished playing career with the likes of Manchester United, AC Milan, QPR and Rangers after making his Chelsea debut as a 17-year-old in 1973.

He managed QPR and Fulham in the mid-1990s before two spells as Chelsea's assistant coach, helping Gianluca Vialli in 1999 and 2000 before rejoining in September 2008 under Luiz Felipe Scolari.

"It saddens me immensely because it's a place where I thoroughly enjoyed working and to work with the quality of guy [Ancelotti] that I was able to work with was exceptional," added Wilkins.

"We had such a lovely ambiance in which to work that I miss it immensely. In the first week I was bashing the walls and kicking doors but the disappointment has gone now.

"I sincerely hope they buck up and win. It was a privilege to work with these guys, they've got some of the top players in world football playing there and they shouldn't be languishing where they are at the moment."

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see also
Ancelotti 'does not fear for job'
10 Dec 10 |  Chelsea
Terry reveals title race concerns
10 Dec 10 |  Chelsea
Ancelotti worried by Chelsea form
04 Dec 10 |  Premier League
Wilkins resolves Chelsea dispute
20 Nov 10 |  Chelsea
Chelsea appoint Wilkins successor
18 Nov 10 |  Chelsea
Chelsea part company with Wilkins
11 Nov 10 |  Chelsea
Wilkins gets Chelsea post
27 Mar 99 |  FA Carling Premiership

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