Andre Villas-Boas admits it is down to him to lift his players from their rut of despair and ensure Chelsea are not dumped into the Europa League.
On a night when Robin van Persie’s double in Arsenal’s 2-1 win over Borussia Dortmund secured their place in the last 16, Villas- Boas watched his team surrender the lead to Bayer Leverkusen and lose 2-1 to a goal in stoppage time.
It means the Blues must beat Valencia at home in their final group game or draw 0-0 – any other result and they will almost certainly go out of the Champions League at the group stage for the first time.
Villas-Boas said: ‘Confidence is low but they expect the manager to inspire them. That’s my job. The talent is immense, the work is good. I have to motivate them to get a win against Wolves on Saturday and then against Liverpool in the Carling Cup next Tuesday.’
Didier Drogba gave Chelsea the lead three minutes into the second half, but Eren Derdiyok levelled with 17 minutes left and Manuel Friedrich headed the winner in the final seconds.
Leverkusen are through and will win the group if they beat Genk.
Villas-Boas said: ‘There was no good football by either team, which is a pity. But that’s not what matters. We go into the final game against Valencia to decide our qualification.
‘They are a team on the up and we’ll need Stamford Bridge behind us. It is a negative spiral of results. The team want to get out of it desperately and the only thing we can do to get out is to work even harder.’
Chelsea were without Ashley Cole, injured in training on the eve of the game, and David Luiz played for 69 minutes despite feeling ‘sick and dizzy’.
Leverkusen’s Michael Ballack, formerly of Chelsea, said: ‘Every team sometimes have a difficult moment and Chelsea are in a moment like this now. I know the players are very competitive and I think they will come back.’