Ballack - Cup exits spurred us on
Blues ace says surprise defeats were wake-up calls
Michael Ballack claims Chelsea's two cup disappointments this season proved the wake-up call the players needed to end the campaign on a high.
The Blues had been challenging for four trophies this term until their Carling Cup final disappointment to Tottenham was swiftly followed by an FA Cup exit at the hands of Barnsley.
Germany international midfielder Ballack believes the two pivotal defeats brought about a crisis meeting between the players, which ultimately laid down the foundations for the remainder of the season.
"We lost two big games close together, first the Carling Cup Final and then at Barnsley," he told the Daily Mirror, ahead of Chelsea's UEFA Champions League final against Manchester United.
"What happened at Barnsley showed all of us the very fine line between being out and winning the titles we want. It was a signal to all of us.
"We were not used to that. Chelsea is not a team that is used to ending the season with nothing. But at that point we were very close to finishing with nothing at all. That was the catalyst when we sat down together.
"When those things happen, a team starts to think a little bit. You ask how things are not going like they did before, you start to question whether you're a good team, if we are there for it in the biggest moments.
"The manager spoke to us and we spoke in a group without him as well, because we have an experienced group, with big players, and sometimes you have to speak without the manager or the coaches there.
"We said 'we are a big club, with big players - but do we want to be second or to be first?'
"And then you have to be more concentrated, give a little bit more. Even if you're not playing well, then you have to give a little bit more ...and that is the key thing."