Chelsea' s boss Roberto Di Matteo has all but conceded that he has failed in the primary task handed to him following the sacking of Andre Villas-Boas - to finish at least fourth in the league.
Di Matteo lamented his side's inability to raise their game for the debilitating 2-0 defeat to Newcastle United last night.
Di Matteo said:"In the first half, we could not raise the tempo to allow us to dominate the game.
"We played better in the second half, and created a few chances."
The Italian refused to blame his players for the 2-0 defeat which effectively dashes their hopes of finishing fourth in the League and automatic entry into next season's Champions League.
"Newcastle United defended well," he said.
"They had two chances and scored two goals.
"It will be difficult to finish fourth now," he conceded.
"But it's been difficult to do that all season, but we won't give up.
"We lost too many points during the season, that's why we are in the position we are in (sixth)
"We pushed the players, these past couple of months and they responded.
"Our players have given everything, pushed and pushed, but we will regroup."
Making six changes from the side that thrashed QPR 6-1 at the weekend, Di Matteo now has to prepares his charges for the FA Cup final at Wembley on Saturday against Liverpool
It's a job he is confident of doing.
"We will have to get the players up and ready for Saturday."
Di Matteo also refused to blame the fixture scheduling which saw them play six games in 18 days.
"There are no excuses, Newcastle United played better than us.
"I always select a strong team to win the game. I can't ask the (same) players to keep playing."
Di Matteo will hope that his centre-back crisis will ease soon.
"We will assess Gary Cahill and David Luiz in the coming days and see how they are," he concluded.