Ancelotti wants youth to expand Roman's empire
Wednesday 15 September 2010
Chelsea return tonight to the Pod Dubnom Stadium where Roman Abramovich's Russian revolution began seven and a bit years ago. Back in 2003 Claudio Ranieri's hastily compiled team completed a 2-0 victory over MSK Zilina in the first leg of a Champions League qualifier, a game in Slovakia which marked the dawning of the club's Roman empire.
At the time it seemed Abramovich's funding of Chelsea would build a dynasty to dominate England, and possibly Europe, for many years. If that was the ambition, and it appeared to be the case with the likes of Peter Kenyon predicting they would "turn the world blue", then they have fallen short.
Undoubtedly they are one of the strongest teams in Europe, with three Premier League titles, three FA Cups and two Carling Cups to show for the £700m the Russian oligarch has pumped into the club, not forgetting the six different managers he has employed.
Yet the biggest prize of all, the Champions League, still eludes Chelsea, despite their having reached five semi-finals and one final in the seven-year period since the Russian billionaire took up residency at Stamford Bridge.
Abramovich still props up the club by writing off their operating losses, which were £66m in 2008 and £44m in 2009, but he has not spent the kind of crazy money he did seven years ago, when in just over one month he blew £111m on 10 new players. Now he leaves the silly spending to Manchester City.
Manager Carlo Ancelotti was at pains to point out yesterday that Abramovich is still as committed to the club as ever, despite not shelling out as much of his own money. "He has a lot of passion for this club. He feels that this is his club, 100 per cent," Ancelotti said.
In the place of expensive new signings, Ancelotti must blood some of his promising youngsters, such as the striker Daniel Sturridge who comes into the starting line-up tonight in place of Didier Drogba, banned for two games after his red card against Internazionale last season.
Ancelotti said: "We want to involve more young players compared to last season. These players are now more ready to play in the first team. Gaël Kakuta played on Saturday, and [against MSK Zilina] we will play Daniel Sturridge from the beginning. We want to use the young players so they play more games."
Enticing the very best out of Sturridge will require much of the man-management skills with which Ancelotti has built his reputation. The 21-year-old was criticised within the club last season for believing his own hype but the Italian believes he has learned a valuable lesson. "He has improved a lot in the past year," Ancelotti said. "He improved his character, his professional behaviour. I am happy. He has matured. He is a fantastic striker. I hope that he will start to play fantastic. I have never seen a striker as quick as he is."
Ancelotti has rested Ashley Cole and has left Frank Lampard to continue recuperating from surgery, demonstrating his desire to rotate his players throughout the season to ensure they are fresh for the key games in the spring. Last season Chelsea lost out to Internazionale in March at the last-16 stage.
"Rotation is good, to give all the players motivation and to avoid injury," Ancelotti said, sounding like his tinkering predecessor Ranieri. "I don't know if the players are happy or not. This season it is the right way to maintain them, to keep them without injury. We have to show our quality, and arrive at the right time in the Champions League fully fit. This is the key."
Ancelotti is convinced this team will end Abramovich's seven-year itch and win the Champions League, having lost the 2008 final on penalties to Manchester United following John Terry's slip.
"If you have the time to wait, the passion to wait, the revenge arrives, always," he said. "I am sure these players will have their revenge. I don't know if I will be here for it, but these players will have their revenge, they will win the Champions League. I am sure of it. They could win the Champions League with the penalty kick of John Terry. That would be good."
sportLiverpool 5 Norwich City 1: Uruguayan striker has now scored 11 league goals against the club
arts + entsOlivier-nominated actor and singer is set to star in Lloyd Webber's musical about the Profumo affair
filmWith more than 70 per cent of early films lost, archivists are scouring the world to preserve the precious examples that remain
sportThe coach of Chalfont St Peter's under-10s football team was relieved of his duties after he sent an email to parents that said: 'I am only interested in winning'
techA piece of new hi-tech kit aims to get us scribbling again
indybestMake getting out of the wrong side of bed on cold winter mornings a thing of the past with our selection of night-time covers
life + styleClarissa Baldwin is the brains behind the slogan 'A Dog is for Life not just for Christmas'
Latest in Sport
Arsenal 2 Hull City 0 match report: Nicklas Bendtner back in the goals as superb Arsenal march on at the top
Liverpool 5 Norwich City 1 match report: Sublime Luis Suarez tears Norwich apart once again
Fulham 1 Tottenham Hotspur 2 match report: Andre Villas-Boas masterstroke helps Spurs edge Rene Meulensteen's battling Fulham
David Moyes admits Manchester United face tough task to retain their title
Manchester United 0 Everton 1 match report: David Moyes misery as Roberto Martinez pulls off the elusive victory
- 1 North Korea: Kim Jong Un 'sacks powerful uncle and has his aides executed'
- 2 The hardwired difference between male and female brains could explain why men are 'better at map reading'
- 3 Is this the scariest advert ever? Japanese tyre commercial comes with its own disclaimer and health warning
- 4 A forgotten episode in Russian history leaves links with the Philippines
- 5 ‘Put it in my mouth’: Viewers outraged by apparent reference to oral sex in VIP e-cig advert