Gary Cahill has revealed how Chelsea’s Premier League title drive has been built on their failures from last season.
A year after winning the league in 2014/15, Chelsea finished 10th in 2015/16 after a turbulent campaign in which Jose Mourinho was sacked midway through.
Now they are on the brink of winning the Premier League again, with just one victory needed from their remaining three matches to seal the title.
Before their trip to West Brom on Friday Night Football, live on Sky Sports, Cahill told Geoff Shreeves the impact last season had on the squad.
“It’s a motivation we have had – tasting disappointment last year and not wanting to be anywhere near that again,” he says. “I wanted it so badly this year, along with everybody else.
“It’s been largely the same group of players and we have had a real determination about what we wanted to achieve this season and getting back to the levels we want to be at.
I wanted it so badly this year, along with everybody else…We didn’t want the feeling we had last year.
“We believed last season was a freak. It was strange to explain. We had the same group of players the season before when we won the league and the cup. We have the same group now with a few good additions.
“The quality has always been there, just with the right attitude and work ethic in training, day in and day out, we have produced this season. We didn’t want the feeling we had last year. We wanted the feeling I have had the majority of time I have been here.”
While Chelsea appear to be cruising towards the title now, there were setbacks earlier in the season.
A 2-1 home defeat to Liverpool in September was followed by a 3-0 loss to Arsenal that sparked the change of formation to a 3-4-3.
“Those games were a big turning point,” says Cahill. “And a sign that as a squad we had the character this year and could be where we want to be.
“We could have slipped back into last year and it was a dangerous time for us, so we responded really well. I remember after those two games people were talking like it was an absolute disaster and we were going back to last season, but in-house we didn’t feel that way.
“The results didn’t go our way but we were working towards something we knew we could achieve. People got carried away. It’s important to keep calm and have experience with players who have gone through good times and difficult times.
“The majority of times we have had a setback we have responded and that’s a true sign of character and determination.
“When you have the little blip we did and everyone is quick to jump on your back, it’s always nice when you keep your mouth shut and go about your business and produce the football that we have to be where we deserve to be.”
In the absence of John Terry, Cahill has captained Chelsea for the majority of the season.
He says there is a determination to lift the trophy as soon as possible, and there is no complacency around the squad.
“Obviously we can see it now, it’s a matter of one game. We want to get that done as soon as we can.
“There is calmness but there is excitement. We have been playing under a lot of pressure for the last few weeks. The way the games have gone and the way Tottenham have fought until the end means we have been under pressure.
“It’s been enjoyable to get the results but it has been intense. I thought against Middlesbrough we played relaxed, in a good way. We played without pressure and with enjoyment and I wasn’t surprised we produced that performance having seen the week of training before. I hope that continues and we can produce the same on Friday.
“We have put ourselves in a fantastic position and we should enjoy the moment and keep focused on one more game to seal a great season.”
Should Chelsea not seal the title on Friday, they finish the season with home matches against Watford and then relegated Sunderland.
“We have confidence, belief, experience and players who have been through these games,” says Cahill. “We just need to approach them as we have with all our other games.”
Source: Sky Sports