Chelsea’s Recipe For European Success
By Thomas Salmon.
After being dumped out of the Champions League by Jose Mourinho’s Inter Milan, Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti claims not to be focusing on the failings of his team but instead concentrating on completing an F.A. cup and league double, perhaps a job-saving double.
In the wake of the European exit, Ancelotti said:
“if we win every game, we can do the double. That’s our aim.” Whilst the experienced Italian manager claims “it’s not the time now to plan – we have other things to think about”
Thoughts of trimming and improving his Chelsea squad must be creeping into his mind. When Ancelotti first came to London his main priority was obvious, “five [Champions League] semi-finals in six years is a beautiful score but now we need to win” but bowing out of the club’s most important competition at the quarter final stage has set the alarm bells ringing.
Whilst publicly, Ancelotti may not be discussing his long-term plans he surely must be behind the scenes. I take a look at the areas that could be the difference between European success and yet another Champions League failure for John Terry and co.
An Ageing Squad
Whilst age does bring experience, the likes of Deco, Ferreira, Hilario and to a lesser extent, Carvalho and Ballack no longer add much to the team whilst the likes of Lampard, Terry and Drogba cannot continue to be the spine of the team for many more years. As football develops, the onus on youth and pace grows stronger as the young guns like Ronaldo, Messi and Rooney come to the fore.
Chelsea’s youth development was placed in the hands of Frank Arnsen but the first team is yet to reap any major benefits. Plenty of players are on the fringes but the club need to develop the talents of the likes of Jeffrey Bruma, Gael Kakuta and Fabio Borini in order to ensure that the depth and quality of the squad remains amongst the best in the world.
The Physio Room
Whilst the Chelsea manager did not try to blame his team’s poor performance on the length of his injury list, any team missing their first choice goalkeeper, full-backs and midfield engine will suffer. Petr Cech, Jose Bosingwa, Ashley Cole and Michael Essien are key cogs in the Chelsea machine and the two full-backs are particularly important elements to Chelsea’s style of play and were sorely missed in the two-legged defeat to Italian champions Inter Milan. No longer with the finances to ensure that any injury setback doesn’t affect the team, Ancelotti must ensure his key players are kept off the treatment table and on the pitch.
Jose Mourinho knows them almost better than anyone else but Chelsea’s style of play is becoming rather transparent as Ancelotti’s distinct lack of a ‘Plan B’ was horribly exposed by the Special One. Joe Cole was brought out of the relative cold and expected to change the game and when this did not develop, the Chelsea team looked flat and out of ideas. Ancelotti must earn his substantial corn and create a team that can break down event the toughest of defences.
These improvements, with a referee decision here, a bit of luck there, should see the boys from Stamford Bridge improve substantially on this season’s Champions League experience hopefully culminating in captain John Terry finally getting his hands on Europe’s most coveted prize.
What do you think….what does Carlo Ancelotti need to do to win the Champions League? Please leave your comments below…….
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