Ancelotti trusts in 'better' Torres to bring an end to 'bad moments'

Not for the want of trying, Carlo Ancelotti sometimes grasps for the right English phrase to express his feelings and finds himself empty-handed. His description of his club's three-month slump as a "bad moment" is one such example. But when the Chelsea manager attempted to convey his sense of determination yesterday he managed an appropriately dramatic rallying for a particularly bleak time.

"Wait," implored Ancelotti. "The season is not finished yet. It could be the best season in memory. Maybe it could be the worst. I don't know. But wait, wait. Chelsea has not died. It's still alive."

The vital signs have been badly missing at times over the 19 games since Ancelotti's assistant, Ray Wilkins, was sacked, a watershed moment in the season whether you believe it was crucial to the subsequent slump in results or not. Chelsea have won just six games since Wilkins departed, a ludicrous record for a club that have established themselves over the last eight years as a powerhouse of European football.

Yesterday, with his captain alongside him, Ancelotti delivered arguably his most convincing performance yet to suggest that all is not lost. It helped that John Terry was on-message and in spiky mood, although not quite as spiky as when he took the England manager, Fabio Capello, to task in Rustenburg last summer.

Sat next to Terry, who had far more questions directed his way at the Parken Stadium last night, Ancelotti seemed to catch a little of his captain's enthusiasm to remind people of Chelsea's achievements over the last 12 months. Terry warned those who would dare to write his team-mates off not to speak too soon, but it was Ancelotti who captured those thoughts in a single quotation.

Are Chelsea still alive? Ancelotti appealed to the Italians in the room to cast their minds back to 2007 when his Milan team fell away badly in the league and finished fourth, an eye-watering 36 points behind the champions Internazionale. But the Champions League title that Ancelotti secured in the final against Liverpool in Athens in May was not a bad consolation prize.

Yet Ancelotti's admission that as well as being Chelsea's best season it could also turn out to be their worst was a nod to the reality of the situation and his own phlegmatic approach to football's outrageous fortunes. This is a dangerous game tonight against a bright young side with nothing to lose and an ambitious young coach in Stale Solbakken, who was confident enough to argue with Pep Guardiola on the touchline at the Nou Camp.

Ancelotti has to decide how he configures his team in the knowledge that, after 77 days' rest from competitive football, FC Copenhagen will be fresher than Chelsea. He will start with Fernando Torres tonight – his first Champions League game as a Chelsea player – who, Ancelotti said, was looking "better". "He has been working and we used the fact that he was not able to play against Everton to improve his condition," Ancelotti said.

But who else? The likelihood is that it will be Florent Malouda and Nicolas Anelka behind Torres as a pair with a midfield trio behind them of Ramires, Frank Lampard and Michael Essien. That would mean leaving out Didier Drogba, who has come to Chelsea's rescue so many times over the years. These are the kind of big decisions that can keep a manager in a job or hasten him to the door.

"The players have always put in fantastic effort," Ancelotti said. "I've never complained about this. This is football. It's sometimes very difficult staying at the top all the time. You sometimes manage when it's not a good moment. The season is not finished. A lot of times, I've been able to manage [in] this moment. In 2007, it was the same situation, I should remind you."

When Terry tried to frame the argument that it could be a "blessing in disguise" that Chelsea find themselves out of the two domestic cup competitions and adrift in the title race, you got the sense of straw being clutched at. However, if this situation does not focus minds then nothing will.

Chelsea simply cannot afford not to qualify for the Champions League with a financial model that they are trying to knock into shape for the introduction of Uefa's financial fair play model in two years' time. With more than £70m spent last month and the promise of more in the summer, it would have been a squeeze even in the most promising circumstances. Without the Champions League revenue they will be even more reliant on owner Roman Abramovich's largesse.

"By the looks of things, he's not going to buy [just] these two players [Torres and David Luiz], sit back and hope for the best," Terry said of the owner. "It's always important to strengthen our squad. If we can add, we can be a very good force in the league and in Europe."

Winning the Champions League is the hardest way of ensuring a place in the competition the following season but it was how Liverpool qualified in 2005 when they finished fifth behind Everton. In the short term, what Chelsea and Ancelotti are looking for is something more symbolic. If they beat FC Copenhagen tonight, or at least leave themselves set fair to win the tie, then they can begin to turn the corner.

Vulnerable and playing away from home, Ancelotti needs that kind of performance tonight from his team. Then they need to beat Manchester United on Tuesday, Blackpool and Manchester City while seeing off FC Copenhagen at home in the meantime. Only then will we be able to tell that this has the potential to be the best of seasons rather than the worst – which is the way it is currently heading for Chelsea's manager.



News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
film
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
Sport
Louis van Gaal would have been impressed with Darren Fletcher’s performance against LA Galaxy during Manchester United’s 7-0 victory
football
Voices
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Sport
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
sport
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
Sport
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
News
Isis fighters travel in a vehicle as they take part in a military parade along the streets of Syria's northern Raqqa province
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Life and Style
fashionLatex dresses hit the catwalk to raise awareness for HIV and Aids
Travel
travel
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears