So Chelsea began the new season the same way they began the last season: two victories in two games. And before you know it, the prophecies have started.
One set of prophesiers says that Chelsea is going to win the title this year. As a Chelsea fan, I too share the same optimism, but im also aware of the fact that Arsenal and Liverpool look dangerous as does Manchester United. With Manchester City also vastly improving their squad and with room + money for further improvements I (as do many Chelsea fans) can only conclude that this year there are no firm or logical favorites to the title. Not yet.
The other set, however, says that Chelsea shall follow the same path that they took under coach Scolari. This is what im surprised about. Scolari was a good man, a good coach with a good vision, but he was not really cut out for taking such strenuous jobs esp. ones that demand more planning. He was out of touch with club football for a long time before he took over at Chelsea.
Scolari's vision did help the team play fluid football with a lot of passing, but that is sadly where the positives ended. His training methods were not intensive enough, something that the players themselves complained about, he did not make enough tactical substitutions when the team needed a change in momentum. He often complained about Chelsea's lack of creativity and cited that as the reason why Chelsea have failed to do well. True, but if a manager is going to cite lack of creativity as the reason why Chelsea struggled against teams like Hull (no offence Hull fans, but our first 11 is better than your first 11) then it shows poorly on the manager and on the preparedness of the team. Scolari also had no plan B (something I dont wanna go into), and lets not forget Chelsea's struggle to understand zonal marking. Add to it a disgruntled Drogba and Terry and the fact that we, with lesser problems than Arsenal, were on our way to gatecrashing out of the top 4. So, was anyone truly surprised when Scolari got fired?
And now let us compare that with Ancelotti's track record. Did you know before Ancelotti took over the reigns of Chelsea he was the manager of a team called AC Milan? Yep, the same Italian team that went to the Champions League final thrice under his helm and won it twice too. He is also the very same manager who gave Pirlo his reverend role, introduced Kaka to the big stage and more recently Pato. During his time in AC Milan, apart from guiding them to many cup victories and three Champions League finals, he also managed to keep AC Milan high enough in the league to qualify for the champions league spot except once.
To sum up, Ancelotti is no stranger to club football. He has experienced the pressure and understood the importance of making changes to formations and on game substitutions. He also knows the importance of rotations when the squad is old or getting tired. He knows how well to study the opponent and exploit their weakness. He also knows how to change the formation for the better when the opposition does find a weakness in the formation. It is this experience that will see him succeed with Chelsea where Scolari has failed.
My Prediction: Chelsea will be in the top three in the league table. And to those who question how one can consider that a success, let us not forget that not long ago Chelsea were in real trouble of crashing out of the Champions League spot had it not been for the revival under Sir Guus Hiddink.
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