Frank Lampard has admitted Chelsea have been weighed down by the "burden" of their inability to win the club's first European Cup, but the England midfielder believes the current side are now ready to claim the trophy.
Lampard will make his 500th appearance for Chelsea in Wednesday night's Champions League quarter-final first leg against Manchester United – joining Peter Bonetti, Ron Harris and John Hollins in reaching that landmark – confident that the team can be spurred on by previous disappointments in the competition. Some nine players who were involved in the defeat by United in the 2008 final could be involved, and they believe that they can make amends this time around.
"We've been so close and every year people talk about it even more – about the burden, the sense of fate and destiny," Lampard said. "We try not to think about that because it can weigh you down, and every year it gets tougher. But we've got belief in the squad here. Winning the Champions League can be about playing the big games at the right time, when your squad's playing well and are fit, and we're in that position now.
"The disappointments spur you on. There's nothing worse than the feeling of losing a Champions League final, or a semi-final in different circumstances. Losing the 2008 final on penalties was a huge disappointment, and it would be lovely to put that right. Considering what we've done domestically – we've won everything – this is the one that stands out. But there's no point being negative and crying about the near-misses. We hope one day we'll have one huge positive experience in this competition that will allow us to forget all the other ones."
Carlo Ancelotti, who has a full-strength squad from which to choose, is expected to employ Didier Drogba and Fernando Torres, the scourge of United while at Liverpool, up front as the Spaniard seeks to end his longest goalless sequence – 11 games – in six years. The manager remains supportive of his £50m forward as Torres continues to adapt to new surroundings. "He is not happy because he hasn't scored," Ancelotti said, "but this is a new team for him, a new world, so you have to give him time to settle.
"I believe in my players, not just Fernando. I am not the type of manager who feels if a player is not playing well he should not be given the possibility to play again. I want to support the player. But as a performer, I am happy with Fernando's performances. He will play."
Asked whether that meant he would start, Ancelotti was less forthcoming – "I don't want to give United an advantage" – though he admitted the partnership between Drogba and Torres had shown flashes of promise.
The manager will complete his century of games in charge of the Londoners having indicated this week that he would be keen to secure a new contract at Stamford Bridge – his deal expires in the summer of 2012 – and has reiterated that intent to remain as Chelsea manager. "The first 100 games were a good start, but I am looking for the next 100," he said. "I don't think I was brought here just to win the Champions League. Roman [Abramovich] didn't take me here for this. I am here because he appreciated how Milan played in the past.
"There is no magic touch in winning this trophy. Chelsea have come close in the past and have the experience, ability and everything you need to win the competition. I just hope this season we can have better luck, but we have to deserve that luck."