James Lawton: Ancelotti risks Drogba's wrath in desire for pace

It may well have been the defining moment of Chelsea's season, the substituted Didier Drogba rolling his eyes in disbelief and disdain and Carlo Ancelotti performing a barely perceptible shrug of indifference.

Drogba had had his chance to make a point or two against the impressively marshalled resolve of Manchester City and had failed, massively, which no doubt explained why Ancelotti was no more accommodating to Drogba after a defeat he was ready to explain with a quite brutal simplicity

"I took Drogba off because I wanted to use (Daniel) Sturridge," he said. "He was fresh and we needed more speed in front. No, I don't remember Drogba shouting at me in the first half. When the game was over I had an easy message to give my players. It was, 'when we play as individuals, we lose; when we play as a team, we win.' This is it, the story of the match."

Somewhere in Ancelotti's statement of unyielding principle, Drogba's finer feelings, which some say were at least partly instrumental in the swift failure of World Cup-winning Luiz Felipe Scolari's Chelsea regime, were tossed on to the refuse heap reserved by the stronger coaches for the cult of the personality.

A wiser Drogba might have reined in his pain at being replaced by a mere apprentice and in favour of taking home a match video. Then he would have seen clearly enough scant evidence of his recent awesome form, and at precisely the time it was needed most.

No doubt Ancelotti will already have pointed out that such self-examination will benefit not just Drogba but the majority of the team. City, as Ancelotti conceded readily enough, produced a superbly committed performance, intense and physically relentless and with just enough threat to stop and then defeat Chelsea after their clinical and often mesmerising march through the Premier League's lower orders. But Chelsea's post-match analysis most demanded a rigorous assessment of their own failures.

They were scarcely recognisable as the team who, unlike all of their most serious rivals, among whom City certainly announced their serious presence, were able to cut through lesser opposition as though they were taking a machete to the undergrowth.

Drogba was the most conspicuous failure but he was closely followed by the recently luminous Florent Malouda, the apparently resurrected Michael Essien and Brazil's World Cup midfielder Ramires, who never began to suggest he could make anyone forget the absence of Frank Lampard.

Ramires surrendered possession repeatedly as City's Nigel De Jong, Yaya Touré and Gareth Barry refused to yield a single advantage. It also helped hugely that Carlos Tevez and David Silva maintained a waspish threat, one that was confirmed when Tevez sped away to exploit another donation from Ramires – and Ashley Cole's recently untypical lapse of granting an opponent too much time and space.

Ancelotti stepped back from reproaching individuals – he could hardly take back his verdict on Drogba – but he has rarely expressed so keenly his displeasure with a team performance.

"I think we prepared well for the game. We knew how they would play, that they would want to stay back and defend well and play on the counter-attack. We were not able to do this because we played too complicated in their half, with a lot of dribbling. There was no speed in their half with the ball. We needed to move the ball more quickly. It was strange that we lost the fight in midfield and for this reason we lost the game. We didn't have the possibility to play our football – and also because they had fantastic defence, fantastic power in the tackles."

Ancelotti explained the post-game protests of Cole and John Terry concerned the Chelsea belief that referee Andre Marriner was too slow to punish some of City's heavier tackling, especially from the young full-back Dedryek Boyata and Barry's full-blooded collision with Chelsea full-back Branislav Ivanovic. Ancelotti added: "The referee couldn't whistle because he had left his whistle at home."

It was an accusation that could not be levelled at the manager. His warnings were piercing enough, both on the extent of Chelsea's fall from the brilliant standard they had set in the early going and the reality of City's threat if they can maintain this kind of intensity. "City are very good," he said. "They have the possibility to run us close and are growing quickly. Yes, they will be an opponent for the title."

For his own players, Ancelotti could not have had a more specific message. He has always insisted that a drama should never be made of one defeat – but then nor should some of its implications be ignored. Here, the lesson was unequivocal. Too many players had let themselves them down. No-one more so, he could not have made it clearer, than the indignant Didier Drogba.

How Alan missed a trick

The Match of the Day pundit has been heavily criticised recently after some gaps in his knowledge emerged. The Independent's Glenn Moore did his bit in Saturday's paper, producing a handy cut-out-and-keep guide to help Shearer analyse City's game. Alas, Alan did not heed the advice about getting the right 'David' – he garbled his lines in Saturday's broadcast, confusing Barça goalscorer David Villa with City's David Silva.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Life and Style
food + drink
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas