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Ancelotti's song and dance

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Phil McNulty | 16:54 UK time, Saturday, 15 August 2009

The song Carlo Ancelotti sang as part of his official Chelsea initiation ceremony remains John Terry's secret for now - but the dance was on show for all inside Stamford Bridge.

Ancelotti's vocal skills were on display behind closed doors as part of bonding during Chelsea's pre-season tour of America. The dance was in full public view as Didier Drogba gave the Italian a winning Premier League start with a freakish goal deep into injury time.

To call it a dance may be stretching the point, but the clenched fist and advance out of the technical area was an emphatic show of emotion from the normally phlegmatic Ancelotti and emphasised the importance of starting the domestic campaign with victory against resilient opponents in Hull.

Ancelotti had learned the history behind this fixture. The credits rolled on Luiz Felipe Scolari's seven-month Chelsea reign just 48 hours after a goalless draw with these same opponents in February.

He admitted he was aware of this significant fact and was even treated to a rendition of "You're Geting Sacked In The Morning" by Hull's fans when Stephen Hunt gave the visitors a first half lead.

And while even Chelsea's reputation for impatience does not run to sacking a manager after the season's opening game, Ancelotti knows it is always best to start with a win.

It was flamboyant Hull boss Phil Brown who was doing the dancing - plus pointing, waving, shouting, gurning and just about everything else - as his side took the lead and then looked like holding out for a point with a fiercely-competitive rearguard action.

Drogba's late winner, lofted in seconds after fourth official Phil Dowd left Hull assistant manager Brian Horton grinning in utter bemusement by revealing six minutes would be added, changed the touchline mood.

And it was a satisfied Ancelotti who was able to face his inquisitors with three points secured rather than dwelling on a disappointing draw.

Brown, in contrast, was forced to clutch at straws in defeat - rightly stating his side had "put a marker down" for how they must approach their task in a season that may be a lengthy struggle.

Ancelotti smiled, the left eyebrow permanently raised, and admitted his new Chelsea was a work in progress.

The old reliables remain. Drogba will be a fearsome spearhead if he does not become side-tracked by theatrics. John Terry and Ricardo Carvalho will be the defensive bedrock if they stay fit. And Frank Lampard will continue to find his way unerringly into dangerous positions.

Ancelotti's new midfield diamond is the most obvious sign of the new broom not exactly sweeping clean but perhaps dusting away a few cobwebs. Lampard is, as expected, at the point of the diamond, but Jon Mikel Obi was removed as the anchor after 45 minutes to allow the introduction of the more progressive Michael Ballack.


These are the foundations. They are already in place - the trick for Ancelotti is to find the finishing touch, the fantasy, that can give Chelsea the extra dimension to unseat Manchester United.

He seems comfortable with the pressure and expectation that is the price on Chelsea's ticket. Ancelotti's dry sense of humour, plus a command of English which is excellent given his limited time in the country, will aid that process.

There are still whispers about the day Guus Hiddink might become available again - but Ancelotti is the man in possession and after working in such close proximity to the mercurial and demanding Silvio Berlusconi, meeting the demands of Roman Abramovich will hold no terrors.

Brown was still optimistic despite defeat. He knew Hull were only minutes away from a result that would have represented an outstanding start - and defender Michael Turner showed enough to suggest he would be a major loss should Liverpool follow up initial interest.

But after winning only one of their last 21 league games last season, Hull need to taste victory quickly this season and Brown has targeted the weak spots.

Hunt has the aggression and commitment that will serve Hull well, showed an eye for a goal and demonstrated he was capable of dangerous delivery.

He will not win popularity contests among opposition fans or players - and definitely not at Chelsea after the clash with Petr Cech at Reading that left the keeper with a fractured skull - but Brown or Hunt will not mind that.

Brown said: "He had quite an energetic afternoon. He can light a room up and get in the faces of the opposition. Some teams and individuals don't like that but he's my kind of player."

And if Hull expend only half the energy their manager shows in the technical area, then they may defy the predictions of many - including my own - that they will be relegated this season.

For Ancelotti, only winning will do his touchline jig as Drogba's winner drifted in shows he knows what is required.

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  • Comment number 1.

    Have to be honest maybe it's wishful thinking on my part, but even though Ancelotti has got 2 wins from 2 I'm far from convinced Chelsea can be a real force this season. Both wins were highly fortunate though they probably did enough to deserve it today. The diamond formation strikes me as very out dated, and as for placing Lampard at the top of it? Not sure he apparently gets 30 less touches of the ball this way, just for him being that little bit further forward. Sacrificing his passing and his skill in holding up the ball seems to me to suggest a touch a naivity on the part of old Carlo. Glad to see the Premiership back! 3 horse race again this year (despite Arsenal obliterating Everton) Chelsea, Liverpool and United. I can see it being a lot closer as well with the absence of Ronaldo and Alonso. 2 key players to both clubs. A lot of Chelsea have under performed the last few seasons Drogba in particular, they have a lot to prove this time around...

  • Comment number 2.

    One goon on Sky Sports actually made the remark, following Drogba's flukey goal, "this is a result of champions."

    The first game of the season!

    Laughable. Utterly, utterly laughable.

    Good to see Arsenal sticking it up every idiot pundit, too.

  • Comment number 3.

    Yes, Chelsea have a great squad and a professional outlook. I cant see them dropping many points this season. And with a new coach they have the passion which is the most important part of a winning football team.

  • Comment number 4.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 5.

    Nice one, gorooneyronaldo.

    If only you could cut and paste Ronaldo and Tevez back into your side you might have a chance of winning something this season.

  • Comment number 6.

    I really don't see how anything can be deduced from one game. Chelsea thrashed Portsmouth 4-0 last season and look what happened next.

  • Comment number 7.

    I would still argue, no matter how many weeks of pre-season training and no matter how many friendlies...the first few games are for getting up to speed with the league.

    All any team hopes (especially Hull) is that they can take advantage and scrape together some points before everybody gets into the real swing in a few weeks time.

    That's when we'll see who's gesticulating frantically at the touchline and who's doing a touchline jig for the rest of the season.

  • Comment number 8.

    4. I thought this blog is pre-moderated? This is disgusting. Critical comments are modded, but apparently not stuff such as post 4.

  • Comment number 9.

    Hull put pressure on Mikel all the way through the first half and stifled any chance of space. In the second half they didn't seem to try the same for Essien and for twenty minutes after that there was much more space before they got back to getting players behind the ball. I thought Ballack added some much needed muscle and got onto the back four more. Some of the first touches were poor, and the finishing was wasteful, but we're still warming up and will surely build on this goood win.

  • Comment number 10.

    I think Sunderland are going to do very well this season - they battered Bolton and Bent is a hell of a buy.

    And good on the lad for going to the North East - he'll be absolutely idolised by the fans in an area where football is simply everything.

  • Comment number 11.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 12.

    Hull had a very lucky goal, they'd of perhaps prefered in turning a draw into a win, isntead of getting on the score sheet in a loss.

    Chelsea cut through them time and time again, 70% possesion, but did 'an Arsenal' at times, trying neat short passes outside the box.

    Drogba seem'd a little off, but hopefully he'll be drilled in training over it, and we'll win more convincingly when he dominate a game so.

  • Comment number 13.

    Goonergit wrote -

    Yoman AncelosMeBich is running out of time, replace Drogba Lampard and Ballack will not be easy, do they have the stamina ? Do they have enough goalscorers in the team ? Can they play beautiful football without having to abuse the yellow card system ? Which games will John Terry be banned for? Ancolotti's situation is a lose lose situation but then of course there's always the money !

  • Comment number 14.

    Only first game of the season. If you look at Man U's start last year (it was terrible), and Liverpool's (great start), then the first few games are just the players getting back into the swing of things. It is not important who is leading the table at the end of August or September but who is starting to get momentum and who is staying injury free. I really think it will be a 4 horse race again this year with Arsenal the smokies. If they can keep their main players fit then they will be up there. Almost every "expert pundit" has written them off, but do that at your own peril. As for Chelsea, it was almost a Mourinho type victory. A little lucky but probably deserved. It will be interesting to see how the big 4 do in the first 10 games and who puts the biggest marker down. I for one am looking forward to seeing how Liverpool perform without Xabi, and how Man U do without the diver. Both have had (especially Liverpool) very mediocre pre seasons.

  • Comment number 15.

    Its the only the first game and whilst a win is good, I wouldn't read too much into the game. Lets see where all the teams are as we start September.

  • Comment number 16.

    To 5. Ronaldo maybe but Tevez? Do you not realise his complete lack of technical ability and a cutting edge? I'd have paid to get him out.

  • Comment number 17.

    To 5.
    Cut and paste might actually be a better formation than diamond lights.
    That is why Chelsea won't win the Premiership.

  • Comment number 18.

    "Hull had a very lucky goal"

    I got banned from 606 last night, for no apparent reason.

    With comments like that, I'm glad.


  • Comment number 19.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 20.

    i think i'm in a minority of football fans who tipped arsenal to be a threat.early days of course.As for Chelsea this is a patronising article we will do well this year for sure.

  • Comment number 21.

    For the neutral, the fact remains that Chelsea are still plain boring to watch. They remind me of Don Revie's Leeds United.
    Wenger and Fergusson are committed to the beautiful game and Liverpool have their moments, but Chelsea are often dour to watch in their wingerless approach. Generally speaking, Series A does not produce the most exciting football in the world, by a long chalk, so I guess Ancelotti is yet another Chelsea manager desperate just to get the win whatever stifling measures it takes.

  • Comment number 22.

    @14: "Both have had (especially Liverpool) very mediocre pre seasons."

    You're right about Liverpool but Utd?????

    6 wins and a draw; includes beating Boca Juniors and Valentia and drawing away to Bayern....scoring 20 goals in 7 games.

    If that's your idea of a mediocre pre season............

  • Comment number 23.

    Chelsea played as you would expect players of that calibre to play, but the tactics were poor. For the last half hour four central midfielders occupied midfield. Ancelotti preferred to put Deco on for Malouda rather than Kalou. It was only when he realised his mistake and got Kalou on that they looked like they may nick it. Prior to that Chelsea resembled a big log bashing at Hull's reinforced Castle door. Ancelotti will need a lot more guile than he displayed today if he's to last beyond Christmas. He needs to buy because at the moment, Chelsea are one-dimensional, predictable and do not have enough options. United and Liverpool have far more creativity and that is the key over a long season. I don't think even Benitez at his most enigmatic would think that Ballack, Essien, Lampard and Deco across the middle would trouble too many teams as was amply demonstrated yesterday.

  • Comment number 24.

    Hull can be pardoned for dreaming of an inspiring one point to start the season but we saw their goal came somewhat fortuitously. The ball rebounded 3 or 4 times ping pong style and fell in Hunt's way to be the only obstruction in his progress to go between the uprights. No defensive resource could have dealt with it. If he is going to be that lucky, he sure will score some.

    Phil could tick off some positives in that the tigers created some real scoring chances and they were thwarted by a dour, hyperactive Chelsea defence.

    One game is too little to base one's forecast on but I just sense that Hull will not be facing the dire straits of last season. To have kept his team going at a rate that poses some real threats to the PL elite, Phil Brown has to have some intrinsic good quality as a football manager.

    Last season, Hull fairly threatened to top the table initially. Then an amazing win drought took them perilously close to relegation. It was indeed some luck that saw them barely eke out a PL spot.

    One can expect Phil Brown to have learned his lessons and will now be able to dodge the spectre of demotion with some panache.

  • Comment number 25.

    I think we will see a more creative Chelsea when Joe Cole returns and the new boy Zhirkov is available. Both of these players have the ability to unlock the multitude of defense minded teams that roll up at the Bridge most home games.

    Cole for me is ideally suited to playing at the head of the diamond where he can be given the license to roam, drift left or right as the game requires. This will also allow Lampard to play deeper where he can see more of the ball and thus dicatate play better as well as getting forward as much as possible. Essien gets my vote for the anchor position.

    Early days but looking forward to an exciting season with a very open championship race!

  • Comment number 26.

    What's all this i hear about chelsea getting a fluke goal in extra time? Come on guys, whoever said luck doesn't play a part in success. Chelsea came out to play and they wanted that win,and this was evident in they pushed everone forward. Am still not sure about Mikel. He still doesn't exude that confidence that is expected of him. Am sure Arsenal fans think they have it all figuref out, even with the departure of teo key player. The season is way too young and this was just day one. Lets see who has the dire hard spirit to cross the finish line.

  • Comment number 27.

    The rest of the season will tell just how good CHELSEA are under Ancelotti but I have every confidence in the team. They have enough confidence and motivation to win and as long as Drogba keeps playing I am sure there will be silverware coming our way!

  • Comment number 28.

    Chelsea are already doing what Liverpool did last season, and what United have done for ages: snatching last-gasp winners. We'll see how long they'll keep it up though. Chelsea strikes me as the kind of team where doubt creps in if they fail to get that late winner a couple of games on the bounce. And if such a "run" coincides with Drogba's annual spell of being unhappy, it could prove costly to the Blues.

  • Comment number 29.

    I don't think Mr McNulty knows much about Silvio Berlusconi. Can I just say that to some of us in Italy Silvio Berlusconi is not mercurial... except in the toxic sense. Of far more use to Ancelotti will be his experience working at the top of the game, and therefore his achievements under intense public and media scrutiny, in a Country where football is the unofficial religion.

  • Comment number 30.

    As usual excellent blog Phil - I particularly like your penultimate paragraph.

    Yes to a certain extent we parked the proverbial bus but so will most clubs outside the top 4 at the Bridge.

    Whilst we got a little lucky with Stephen Hunts goal(which did not rebound 3 or 4 times as sevensean suggested) but on the other side of the coin Mikel bought the first goal with a soft free kick at the edge of the box and the winner turned out to be a fluked cross shot in added time.

    I can see Ancellotti getting some stick in the way Scalori did in the end and Chelsea supporters will be baying for the return of Guus if his boring diamond formation fails to light the fuse.

    Oh and finally.. made me chuckle with the banner I saw with the words .. Money can't buy you everything.. JT + CFC. Presumably referring to Man City. Unbelievable coming from Chelski.

  • Comment number 31.

    Post 16: you'll never get the money.go for the kill chelsea

  • Comment number 32.

    Do formations win games

  • Comment number 33.

    HUnt is contemptible and no longer fit to be a professional footballer. Hull have a long season ahead of them especially if they lose their defenders.
    CFC have to work out the diamond formation and avoid getting too narrow. That is a big challenge for Ancelotti and Ray Wilkins. Though it is possible that Zola will feature soon if the Icelandic administrators force the sale of West Ham assets to plug the debts of the other failing areas of that business. Zola will walk if West Ham sell. West Ham is like it has in the past developing talent but to no avail if they are obliged to sell.

  • Comment number 34.

    Drogba may have been lucky with ball in the net but Chelsea would have scored anyway with the player unmarked at the back post ,Hull seem to be improving from what i saw last night and i don't think they'll have the problems that Pompey,Wolves,and Burnley will ,Wigan looked poor last night against Sunderland too ,still only one game in and a lot to play.

  • Comment number 35.

    Every game is important for all teams, if they have premiership ambitions. last year the premiership was won by 4 points, and has been as tight and tighter in seasons gone by. Anybody who thinks that early season results dont matter, is forgetting that three points against Hull in August is equal to 3 points against Man United in May.
    Its true that you cannot win the premiership in August but you can go a long way toward losing it, and despite the claims of Man United fans that they started really badly last year and still won it, they should recall that they had to go on a record breaking run of clean sheets to get back into pole postion. Leaving yourself with that kind of challenge will not work every season (and certainly not this season with out the goals of Ronaldo to rely on).
    Late goal to win a game, yesterday for Ancelloti and Chelsea. Lucky, but thats good, since the one thing you cannot buy or coach, is luck.

  • Comment number 36.

    "Ancelotti's new midfield diamond is the most obvious sign of the new broom not exactly sweeping clean but perhaps dusting away a few cobwebs."

    as per the old adage. The more things you change the more it remains the same. Drogba's goal is a cheeky goal, even tho he was attributing it as a 'cross' diplomatically.

    CA, to his credit is emulating JM and Hiddink, has let Drogba be the alpha dog and you can be assured that he is going to be amply rewarded.

    If Drogba is unshackled and allowed to flourish, IMO he will score timely goals. Time and time again he has proven to us. Together with the rest of the team I believe Chelsea will win back the title.

  • Comment number 37.

    The diamond formation was a real talking point - this will be a focal point of Ancelotti's game plan, but an old fault still looked obvious yesterday, namely a lack of width.

    Malouda provides some, but it is clear opposing managers will push on to Jose Bosingwa and Ashley Cole in an attempt to stifle Chelsea. Do Chelsea fans think they have the variety to overcome this? It was, to an extent, Luiz Felipe Scolari's failure to have a Plan B that led to his downfall.

  • Comment number 38.

    Never mind Carlo Ancelotti, I can't wait for Phil to argue again that David Moyes is arguably the best manager in the Premier League!

  • Comment number 39.

    One thing i would say about the diamond frmation is this;it could end up neutralizing Lampards attacking threat. When he plays in the typical, box to box central midfielders role, his late darts into the box are nion impossible to pick up, therefore leading to him socring 20 goals a season.
    However, playing at the point of a diamond he can be aeasily picked up by a defensive midfielder, and he can get crowded out by the drifting Anelka and the similary ataacking Ballack.
    We had 4 central midfielders playing a diamond system in the last bit of the second half, which obviously congested the midfield and offered little width.
    Im sure when J.Cole and Zhirkov are fit either the system will change to 4-3-3 or, Ancelotti will drop Mikel, Ballack and Deco.
    Until then I am not convinced this is the system to win us the league.

  • Comment number 40.

    I think the diamond midfield 4 can work - but only with a different pairing upfront. If you have 4 fairly flat midfield players, you need creativity upfront, and the problem with Drogba and Anelka is that they are both central strikers. We would do far better with one of them (presumably Drogba) plus a 2nd but more creative striker - like Rooney. Anelka tries to do this, but his strength is playing off the shoulder of the last defender and finding angled runs for a midfield through-ball. With 2 upfront instead of just one, the strikers themselves need to find a way to create their own chances - and that is more likely with a player such as Aguero behind Drogba.
    Otherwise we will remain narrow across the midfield, and too reliant on Cole and Bosingwa to create chances from overlapping runs - and that is already too predictable. We need a young Zola.

  • Comment number 41.

    You are right that you cannot win the PL in August but you certainly can loose it in August. Therefore it is very important to win your early games and if this is as a resulot of a fluky goal as in Chelsea's case it is still 3 points and keeps Chelsea Arsenal & Man U (who won today) both unbeaten and with a 100% record. With Spurs beating Liverpool then the other team in the so called big 4 are already 3 points adrift and will not want to slip further behind this month.

    As an extra comment perhaps Birmingham loosing at Man U might be a good omen as Man U drew with Reading in the first match of 2007/8 and Newcastle in the first match of 2008/9 - both of these teams ended up relegated conversly Man U won this time so is this an omen for them not winning the PL this year

  • Comment number 42.

    Great Championship winning performance by Liverpool today, good to see all the hype about this being 'their season' being fully justified!

  • Comment number 43.


    "Wigan looked poor last night against Sunderland too ,still only one game in and a lot to play."


    i think you'll find that wigan beat aston villa at villa park. and that sunderland were actually playing bolton. oh dear.
    oh well, anyway I thought liverpool were very poor today and I'm a liverpool fan. thought stevie was very poor. nothing he did went right apart from the penalty. the only ones worth praise from the liverpool team after that performance are glen johnson and possibly kuyt. apart from that, utter rubbish. tottenham did play extremely well to be fair to them

  • Comment number 44.

    42 you are wrong, next year is "their season"

  • Comment number 45.

    Our width (or lack of it) isn't a real issue. Joe Cole will be back soon, we have Zhirkov & Malouda too.

    We'll be fine once the team have fully adapted the new system to Premiership games.

    WE didn't play great on Sat, but still had 30 chances and near on 70% possession!

  • Comment number 46.

    Phil, you said;
    "the trick for Ancelotti is to find the finishing touch, the fantasy, that can give Chelsea the extra dimension to unseat Manchester United."&...
    "Do Chelsea fans think they have the variety to overcome this? It was, to an extent, Luiz Felipe Scolari's failure to have a Plan B that led to his downfall."

    I say;
    Not Cole, Not Malouda, Not Kalou, not the Usual Suspects, not even Pato or Ribiery!

    Just one word Agüero to provide the missing or finishing touch as you succinctly pointed out.

    Giovanni dos Santos, Pato and Agüero were touted as the stars to be seen at the last U20 FIFA world cup. Having watching most of the tournament, to me Agüero was easily the man among the boys winning the golden boot and golden ball at the tournament. He is the real McCoy.

    RA should buy him out €50 million or whatever it takes. IMHO, He will provide Chelsea with the goals and 'attacking variety'.

    P.S. Cole & Ribiery is good but where are the goals history? You see my point? Same dilemma for Liverpool. If only Liverpool have the financial wherewithal Aguero will been the missing link last season.

  • Comment number 47.

    Aquero, Drogba, Anelka combination in a 4-3-3 formation provides CA with another deadly attacking option . Off-course the diamond formation is moot as you rightly pointed out.

  • Comment number 48.

    47) Who's Aquero? :D

    Aguero is a great player and I want him to be playing in the Premier League, I think that Athletico's price tag means that no one will place an offer for him.

  • Comment number 49.

    It's pretty to early to expect anything but the results turned in so far by this team proves Chelsea as a team is still a work-in-progress.
    Be that as it may Carlo needs to realize early that he must not try to satisfy all the egos by playing everybody in every game otherwise we would end up ruining our own chances, for instance that 1st substitution was really unnecessary @ that point in time besides we need to start learning how to blood our young wards in order to integrate them into the mix of things.

  • Comment number 50.

    Chelsea need to ask Drogba to get REAL by not being so wasteful with 'easy' goal chances. If problem still persists, spend big on a new striker!!!!! ---This would make us 'invincible'

  • Comment number 51.

    A hard earned win and three precious points in the very first outing is certainly a positive start to the long campaign ahead. Best wishes to the players and fans of Chelsea and Hull.

    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

  • Comment number 52.

    Methinks that if anybody can rejuvenate Sheva it will be CA.
    It will be a great comeback story and that might be Plan C for Chelsea's formation. No?

  • Comment number 53.

    Chelsea done good work to win the game. But they need to mark more goals to be determinided to win this league as they deserved. It will be a great work to see Malouda,Anelka and Drogba on the forword line,lead by Lampard,Esien and Balack or Migel in the midle.

  • Comment number 54.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.


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