Ancelotti uses his guile to thrive where Scolari failed

Italian's understanding of Chelsea player power has been key to his success

Carlo Ancelotti has not won anything yet, but tonight he can crack open a bottle of decent red wine and raise a glass at having passed something of a minor landmark. He has lasted longer in the job of Chelsea manager than Luiz Felipe Scolari did.

One year ago today, Roman Abramovich arrived at Chelsea's £20m training ground in Cobham to tell Scolari: "It isn't working." And with that the World Cup-winning coach known as Big Phil was packing his bags to try his luck in Uzbekistan.

Twelve months on and Ancelotti can congratulate himself on having survived longer than the famed Brazilian. But he has done much more than just survive. Under his leadership Chelsea enjoy a two-point lead at the top of the Premier League, have progressed without hiccup to the knock-out stages of the Champions League and are heavy favourites to retain the FA Cup. Something clearly is working.

Ancelotti is succeeding with much the same bunch of players that had systematically failed under Scolari; they failed to win enough games, and they failed to give the manager their full backing. But first under Guus Hiddink, who safely saw Chelsea through to the end of last season, and now under Ancelotti, a squad that had seemed virtually unmanageable a year ago has become the outstanding team in the land.

The furore that greeted captain John Terry's recent bedroom revelations, and the subsequent decision to strip the Chelsea defender of the England captaincy has done nothing to affect morale. The leaders' 2-0 defeat of Arsenal on Sunday was not the result of a dressing room torn apart by inner doubts and tensions.

Much as his compatriot Fabio Capello has done with taking the same players that underperformed for England during the reign of Steve McClaren, Ancelotti has taken Scolari's players and made them greater than the sum of their parts. In many respects, Ancelotti has picked up where Hiddink left off. Ancelotti's achievement in instilling harmony and focus to the ego-driven Chelsea dressing room should not be underestimated.

Scolari complained after his dismissal he had been undermined by "player power" and accused Petr Cech, Michael Ballack and Didier Drogba of going behind his back and moaning to Abramovich. Ancelotti has a far deeper understanding of the workings of a modern dressing room, having spent eight years at Milan, and accepts the balance of power has swung away from managers in the past decade. His handling of the Terry situation last week was clear evidence of this. He stood by his player, and expected the same in return. In contrast Scolari was happy to blame players publicly for mistakes, creating a culture of scapegoats, a culture of which he ended up falling victim.

This approach has enabled Ancelotti to bring out the best in the likes of Drogba, who was dropped by Scolari but has scored 22 goals so far this season. Florent Malouda, Deco and Ricardo Carvalho have also undergone something of a renaissance.

Chelsea's performance in their victory over Arsenal on Sunday demonstrated the maturity of the team. They have played better in other games recently, notably the 7-2 thrashing of Sunderland, but against Arsenal they were content to rein in their creative side in order to attain a win that not only returned them to the top of the table but also consigned their London neighbours to the role of also-rans.

A year ago, player power proved to be the downfall of Scolari. Now, the same player power appears to be driving Chelsea and their coach Ancelotti towards the Premier League title.

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
News
i100

Other places that have held independence referendums
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur
film

It scooped up an unprecedented 11 Academy Awards when it was first remade in 1959

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

Arts and Entertainment
Blossoming love: Colin Firth as Stanley and Emma Stone as Sophie, in 'Magic in the Moonlight'
film

Actors star in Woody Allen's 'Magic in the Moonlight'

News
news

News
peopleThe Times of India said actress should treat it as a 'compliment'
Arts and Entertainment
Maxine Peake plays Hamlet at Manchester's Royal Exchange
theatreReview: Maxine Peake brings emotional ferocity to Shakespeare's starring part
News
London's New Year's Eve fireworks event is going to be ticketed this year for the first time at £10 a head
news

Revellers will have to pay to see New Year's Eve fireworks in London

News
news

Watch this commuter wage a one-man war against the Circle Line
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
lifeShould we feel guilty about keeping cats inside?
Travel
travel

...and the perfect time to visit them

Sport
Jonas Gutierrez (r) competes with Yaya Toure (l)
football

Newcastle winger reveals he has testicular cancer - and is losing his trademark long hair as a result

News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
news

Man's attempt to avoid being impounded heavily criticised

Life and Style
tech

Try putting that one on your Christmas list
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
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

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week