The Chelsea midfielder Michael Ballack is pleased that Chelsea are on their way to the FA Cup Final next month, but having already won the trophy twice with the Blues, he is desperate to get his first Premiership title.
“For me, I can’t say it’d be enough,” he says. “The club have won the FA Cup twice in the last three years and, while it’s a trophy, the players who play for Chelsea want more, something bigger. For us, that is the league now.
“It has become our main target. Normally, we’d be in three competitions after February and, for big clubs like United, Chelsea, even Arsenal, the main target is always the Champions League. Of course you want to win the domestic league, which is a very honest title – the others are easier to win because there are fewer games involved – but the Champions League, for all teams, is the most significant. Going out so early from Europe put us in an unusual position and allowed us to focus on regaining a trophy we have not won for the last three seasons. That is a big incentive.
“There are things that count in our favour. We have players with experience, and there is a real hunger there – we want it back. But you must balance that against the fact that, when you win something again, again and again, as United have done in the last few years, it will give them confidence until the last minute of the last game. The fact that there’s a third team involved just adds to it all. There are two opponents waiting for you to slip up and we have to remember that, sometimes, in football you don’t get what you deserve.
“You can perform fantastically and then, even just for a few games, your level drops a bit, you lose some points and that puts you behind. At the beginning of the season everyone thought Chelsea would be one of the favourites for the Champions League. We believed this as well. But we had one bad day – not a really bad day, but not a great day – against Inter and were out. The same thing can happen in the league. Show a little bit of weakness, the next team pounces and it’s gone. It could just be a bit of bad luck, or a decision that turns a win into a draw, and the title is decided. You can deserve a lot but, in the end, you have to deliver.”
Another win on Tuesday at home to Bolton will be yet another step closer to the title. Ballack may yet get his wish.