Football FanCast columnist Mike
Harvey wonders if Carlo Ancelotti has
a Plan B.
Chelsea's lost to Aston
Villa last week has hit a sour note with many fans. The team played well but
not great on offense, failing to capitalise on many chances. Defensively, the
team was horrendous. JT and company conceding both goals off of poorly covered
corner kicks (albeit the first one involved some bad luck as well). The good
but not good enough performance has many fans, including the boys on the Chelsea
Football FanCast podcast, drawing some comparisons to Scolari.
The prevailing sentiment is
that the performance at Villa Park was an aberration. The problem is not
systemic. The problem was too many players having a substandard game against a
good team and a good team making the most of very few opportunities. Let's hope
Carlo Ancelotti has enjoyed
a very good reception from fans and is still in his "honeymoon" period. Carlo
is a good and proven manager and one would think that with the talent at his
disposal he should be able to have the Blues in the hunt for all the available
silverware. The question remains, however, is he ready for the rigors of the
Premier League campaign?
The Premier League,
especially this season, is the most competitive it has been in some years.
There are more teams capable of challenging for the top spots than there have
been in recent years. In Italy it was not necessary to be "on" for every game.
The only real challenges came from a small handful of teams.
Chelsea WAS creating chances
in the Villa game and the idea that the players on the pitch may have equalised
was not farfetched. However, Villa is a good team with a good manager, in order
to break them down it is necessary to make changes and get players out there
that have fresh legs. The game in England is more physical and the referees
tend to allow more physical play than in Italy which means that often times the
difference is a fresh pair of legs to fight through a challenge because the ref
is not going to give the foul. Ancelotti's reluctance to make changes in an
effort to press for the equaliser may prove to be too conservative in the end.
Carlo is walking a very fine
line at the moment. He has made some considerable changes to the system that
was used under Hiddink, a system which was very successful, by the way. The
players are adapting and are talented enough to make the system work IF Ancelotti
can convey to them what he wants and how to adjust to what other teams do.
The complaint about Scolari
was the lack of a plan "B". I am starting to wonder if Carlo has one. A plan
"B" is only necessary, obviously, when plan "A" doesn't work. Carlo has only
run into this problem twice. My worry is that the play of Didier Drogba and a
fairly "soft" early season schedule are "papering over the cracks" in Ancelotti's
Fortunately for Carlo the
schedule makers and the draws have been on his side. The Blues play Bolton
twice, Blackburn, and Atletico Madrid twice in their lead up to a the home
fixture against Manchester United. Chelsea SHOULD be riding a five game winning
streak when they face United which means even if they do lose to United it will
once again be considered an aberration.
Ancelotti has been given a
very "friendly" schedule. There is only one point in the schedule where the
Blues play a top team three games in a row (Arsenal, Man City, Everton), that
should mean that Chelsea will almost always have a game to "bounce back" from
any defeat. Hopefully, this will not result in the club sticking with Ancelotti
longer than they should. Chelsea have a real opportunity to win everything this
season but Carlo has to beat the top teams and not let the fact that the team
does not lose consistently fool him into thinking all is well.