Ancelotti shows Chelsea the way

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LONDON, September 25- Carlo Ancelotti has brought many qualities to Chelsea since his appointment in July, but perhaps the most significant of all is a little peace and quiet.

 

CARLO_ANCELOTTI_The Italian manager has been notably understated in his dealings at Stamford Bridge: he has given few soundbites in his press conferences, created no controversies with his team selections and tended to favour an arm around his players’ shoulders rather than a well-polished Italian boot up their backsides.

Such serenity is in marked contrast to the febrile atmosphere which has marked the reigns of previous Chelsea managers, but the club appear to be benefiting from the new atmosphere of tranquility.

The victory over Queens Park Rangers in the English League Cup on Wednesday took Ancelotti’s tally of consecutive wins in all competitions to eight and a visit to Wigan Athletic in the Premier League on Saturday should take that figure to nine.

Life in west London could hardly be sweeter and Ancelotti deserves much credit for not only matching the sky-high expectations of his demanding paymasters but exceeding them.

After all, this is the best start to a season since Mourinho – the standard by which all subsequent Blues managers have been judged – began the 2005-06 campaign with nine straight league wins.

Ancelotti’s success has not been based on revolutionary tactics or innovative man-management. He has kept things remarkably simple, deploying the same 4-1-2-1-2 formation at home and away, unapologetically massaging the ego of his talismanic striker Didier Drogba at every opportunity and, perhaps most significantly, enjoying various moments of good fortune, most obviously the last-gasp winner at home to Hull on the opening day and an even later clincher at Stoke earlier this month.

The net result is that the club are lording it over their domestic rivals in the Premier League and have made a solid enough start to their straightforward-looking Champions League group.

Spirits could hardly be more buoyant.

"I think this is the best squad, the best team and the best spirit since I have been here," said left back Ashley Cole. "JT (John Terry) won the title here so it’s maybe not as good as that yet, but we are all together and always stick together and fight for each other. Hopefully that will take us over the line."

Chelsea will need that spirit in the coming weeks, when their credentials will be examined in rather closer detail. After meeting Wigan and Apoel Nicosia in the Champions League next week, Ancelotti must confront three members of last season’s top six – including Manchester United and Liverpool – in their next five games.

Hence the need to take full advantage of a meeting with a Wigan side whose record against the established ‘Big Four’ remains utterly dismal.

The Latics’ defeat to Arsenal last weekend was typical of the trend, featuring plenty of promising football but, ultimately, no points and there is little to suggest that record will be overturned at the DW Stadium, even if Roberto Martinez’s players are doing their best to be bullish.

"Clubs like Chelsea and Manchester United are great sides on a worldwide stage, not just here in the Premier League," Hugo Rodallega, the Colombian striker, said.

"We have to start picking up in games like this and looking at winning every game, not relying on what might happen after that in games against other teams. Chelsea is an important game for us, and we’ll be going all-out to win that one."

 

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