LONDON, October 27- The English League Cup may rank a distant fourth on the list of Carlo Ancelotti's priorities this season but the Chelsea manager knows even this most derided of competitions has its value.
Anyone doubting that thesis should just cast their minds back to February 2005 when Chelsea defeated Liverpool 4-2 in the final.
That victory gave Jose Mourinho his first trophy at Stamford Bridge and provided the first concrete evidence that the club had appointed a born winner.
Ancelotti will hope that some of Mourinho’s League Cup stardust rubs off on him this season as he seeks to put his stamp on Chelsea in the form of cold, hard silverware.
He should be confident enough: his team face Bolton Wanderers at home in the fourth round on Wednesday and, while Gary Megson’s team can be irksome opponents, Chelsea will still be overwhelming favourites.
The Blues boss’s determined approach to the competition was underlined in the previous round, when he surprised everyone – not least members of his own squad and backroom staff – by selecting a virtually full-strength side for the visit of Championship side Queens’ Park Rangers.
While Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka were given the night off, there were starting places for John Terry and Frank Lampard and a good job, too. Rangers proved doughty opponents and were only seen off by a single goal.
Ancelotti is expected to stick with his safety-first policy again this week, with Joe Cole set for a second outing in five days.
There will be no complaints from the England midfielder, who needs time on the pitch to regain match sharpness after eight months out with a knee injury.
"There is so much to look forward to and I am so excited about just playing football for Chelsea and England," Cole said.
"There are a lot of ups and downs in football and I’ve had eight months of sitting on my backside watching so I’m just happy to be playing for Chelsea. My job is to help the club win something this year."
Bolton will not travel south in great expectation, although Megson’s side are in form of their own.
They shrugged off a spirited Everton fightback at the Reebok Stadium last weekend to ensure they have now only suffered one defeat in seven matches, playing the kind of slick football not often associated with their manager.
Not that Megson is about to put style before substance as he seeks one of the most notable wins of his tenure in Lancashire.
"Quite a few people have been talking about the way we are playing, which is nice, but we want to be winning games," he said.
"They are not particularly interested in Bolton’s results but they have seen us on the television when we have played against Liverpool, Tottenham, Manchester United and Everton.
"We are playing some decent stuff but we have to play decent stuff and win the games."