The Chelsea manager, Luiz Felipe Scolari, believes that Nicolas Anelka has finally showed he can be a lethal striker for the London club with a four-goal rampage against Milan in Moscow yesterday.
The cool Frenchman scored two goals in each half as the Blues overwhelmed the Italians 5-0 in the pre-season Railways Cup after Frank Lampard's early opener. A strong Chelsea side, including Michael Ballack for the first time this summer, proved too good for a weakened Milan shorn of the likes of Kaka and Alexandre Pato.
Scolari said that it was the new-found ruthlessness and focus shown by Anelka that pleased him most just two weeks before the start of the Premier League season. "This game was important for Anelka but more important for us – the fans, the coach and the other players who will have more confidence in him," the Brazilian told www.chelseafc.com.
"Today was good not because he scored four goals, but because he played more free and with more quality than in other games. He was playing against a big club and to get four goals against Milan, for his confidence it is fantastic and Anelka today and in the last game played more inside the penalty area than before. That is where I asked him to play and where I need him, not right and left as before, because we have one striker and that is Anelka."
With Didier Drogba getting ever closer to returning to training after a knee injury, Scolari admits he has some tough decisions to make before the meaningful action kicks off against Portsmouth on 17 August.
"Maybe I will receive good news about Drogba and we have 12 days to train and maybe we will have something I don't expect," he said. "I have quality, competitive players and they fight for places on the pitch. I have 22 here, five at home."
Milan's miserable display was typified by some comically inept goalkeeping by Zeljko Kalac. Lampard put Scolari's side ahead in the second minute when his curling free-kick was missed by everyone and the ball flew in through Kalac's legs.
It was two in the eighth minute when Anelka latched on to a poor defensive header to fire home low from the edge of the area. The Frenchman added a third 10 minutes later and completed his hat-trick six minutes after the restart, heading home from a Florent Malouda cross.
It was four for Anelka and five for Chelsea in the 58th minute as another flowing move down the left ended with Malouda centring once more for the former Bolton striker to volley home.