LONDON, August 9 – Carlo Ancelotti insists Chelsea's poor form in pre-season won't have any effect on their defence of the Premier League title.
Ancelotti’s side go into Saturday’s Premier League opener against West Bromwich Albion on the back of four successive defeats after the champions were beaten 3-1 by Manchester United in the Community Shield at Wembley on Sunday.
Since winning their first pre-season match against Crystal Palace, the Blues have been beaten by Ajax, Eintract Frankfurt, Hamburg and now United.
Although some of those defeats didn’t feature the Chelsea players who were in action at the World Cup, Ancelotti was able to send out a virtually full-strength team against United and they still came unstuck.
The Italian saw his side trail to goals from Antonio Valencia and Javier Hernandez and although Salomon Kalou reduced the deficit late on there was still time for Dimitar Berbatov to add a third for United.
Ancelotti is aware there are areas of Chelsea’s play that must improve, but he is confident they will be up to full speed once his World Cup players, including the likes of Didier Drogba, Ashley Cole and Frank Lampard, reach full fitness after their late return to training.
"It was not a good pre-season for results. We lost four games. We had bad results but our training was good," Ancelotti said.
"We need the players who have just come back to have more time to train. We knew it would be a difficult pre-season. In two weeks the players who came back from the World Cup will be 100 percent.
"We have to look forward with optimism and trust for the next game and the start of the Premier League. We will be at the top in the Premier League."
Ancelotti’s hopes of making a flying start to the new season have been boosted by the news that goalkeeper Petr Cech and defender Alex are both set to return to training this week and should be fit to face West Brom.
One player likely to be missing is Portugal midfielder Deco, after Ancelotti told him he can leave – paving the way for Benfica midfielder Ramires’s move to Stamford Bridge.
"The situation is not clear about Deco. We gave him the possibility to go to Brazil but nothing is decided until now. We have possibilities in midfield to have a player to replace Deco," Ancelotti said.
While Ancelotti ponders Chelsea’s problems, United boss Sir Alex Ferguson is looking forward to his team’s first league game, against Newcastle on August 16, with the belief that last year’s runners-up are ready to regain the title.
Ferguson has added only two new players to his squad, but both Mexican forward Hernandez and young defender Chris Smalling made good impressions during their substitute appearances at Wembley.
The Scot believes his squad’s desire to make up for last season’s disappointments is strong enough to ensure they push Chelsea all the way again.
"We should get a good reaction. It happens when you don’t win the title. Everyone wants you to do it the next year," Ferguson said.
"That’s the great thing, you’ve always got the next game or season. We’re going into the season without any major injuries and if we can keep that group together it keeps us in a strong position.
"The likes of (Rio) Ferdinand, Anderson and (Owen) Hargreaves are a few weeks away but I’m happy with my squad. If they are all fit we are in with a really good chance."