RAMIRES: MAKING SACRIFICES
Having witnessed a significant change in the atmosphere around Cobham since last weekend's 3-0 win against Bolton Wanderers, Ramires has stressed the importance of securing back-to-back victories as we continue our quest for a top-four finish with a trip to West Bromwich Albion this weekend.
The victory against Owen Coyle's side represented our first in the league since a Frank Lampard goal proved the difference against Sunderland back in mid-January, and with successive home league matches against Stoke and Tottenham following our trip to the Hawthorns, the Brazilian midfielder believes finding the right levels of consistency will be the key.
'It's very important to build on last week's victory because when you are winning everybody feels better and more motivated,' says Ramires.
'The whole mood around the club is upbeat so that's what we need to do. You can feel it among the players and you can feel it around the club, so we need to try to change this difficult phase we're going through, continue to win games and everything will fall into place.'
Having initially struggled to adapt to the demands of English football following his arrival from Benfica early last season, Ramires pretty quickly became accustomed to the physical nature of our game and, to his credit, worked hard to improve.
Eighteen months on, and the 24-year-old has become a key figure for the Blues under Andre Villas-Boas, chipping in with an impressive eight goals in all competitions from midfield this season, and he is gradually regaining his sharpness following a knee injury which saw him leave the pitch on a stretcher during our FA Cup fourth round win at Queens Park Rangers.
'The knee is much better,' he says. 'Initially, the medical department thought I would be out for three or four weeks, but we worked very hard and managed to shorten the period to only two weeks.
'Obviously when you come back from injury, especially so quickly, you still feel a bit of pain, but it's not too bad and I'm feeling good. Now is the time where we have to make sacrifices individually and maybe play through the pain barrier because we need to build up a winning streak.
'It's difficult at the beginning. When I left Brazil to go to Portugal it was much easier because I was able to speak the language, but when I moved from Brazil to England it was totally different, as it was not only about the language, it was about the culture as well. It's difficult to integrate when you don't speak the language, you can't communicate with your friends, but I tried my best to adapt as quickly as possible.'
While his solo strike in the home game against Manchester City last season may have been the goal which made people sit up and take notice - as well as winning the club's goal of the season competition - it was one of only two goals he scored in the whole campaign.
This season, however, has been a totally different story, and Ramires believes Villas-Boas is the man who deserves all the credit for his new-found prowess in the final third.
'It's about adaptation, I feel more adapted this year so that helps, but when you understand the game and the timing better than obviously you have more chances to score goals,' he says.
'Also, what has helped me this year is the freedom which Andre has given me. He knew my style of play from when I was at Benfica and he has asked me to play further forward, so if you are in those positions it's much easier to score goals.
'At the moment I feel like I've adapted quite well as I understand the language a lot better which makes things easier. I didn't have much trouble on the pitch, but I've resumed my classes and the only thing I need to feel fully adapted now is to speak good English.'