Top Drog presents Carlo with solution

THE Robert de Niro tearjerker Awakenings centres on an episode where the main protagonist experiences normal life after being brought out of a catatonic state by pioneering methods from his psychiatrist Oliver Sacks, played by Robin Williams.

De Niro’s character smiles in wonder as he takes in sunlight, responds to people’s greetings and dances to music — before the subtitles appear with the revelation that he “never experienced another awakening in his life”. Cue credits and floods of tears.

The same sad truth could apply to Chelsea fans — not to mention the manager — after they witnessed something on Saturday they had not seen since October: a team that played with the confidence and swagger of a side with eyes on Premier League supremacy.

The reasons for the Blues’ own awakening were hardly pioneering.

It was more a reversion to the past that re-ignited their faint title hopes, as Didier Drogba started up front on his own for the first time since the arrival of Fernando Torres, that was the key to their victory over West Brom.

And the 33-year-old Ivory Coast international looked to be on a personal crusade to convince his manager — or, more to the point, Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich — that reports of his decline are premature and they have no need for the expensive misfit Torres just yet.

He struck Chelsea’s first to cancel out Peter Odemwingie’s opener, before his second effort was parried into the path of Salomon Kalou, while Frank Lampard sealed the win just before half time.

But their rebirth at The Hawthorns, which consigned their Champions League exit at the hands of Manchester United to history, could be a mere blip, because manager Carlo Ancelotti confirmed Torres will be back in the Chelsea first XI for their match against Birmingham on Wednesday.

And the Spanish World Cup winner, who did have the ball in the net near the beginning of his 11-minute cameo against West Brom only to have his strike ruled out for offside, will be under no pressure to open his account against Alex McLeish’s men.

Ancelotti said: “He will be involved not only for the next game but for other games as well. He has been involved in the last games. Everyone is hoping he will a goal, but it doesn’t mean if he plays he has to score. In my opinion he has to play well for the team and has to move — and it is possible to score. For me I have never asked for him to score. I have asked him a lot of times to play well.”

Even though it is plain to see that whoever plays out of Torres and Drogba, either of them work best in a lone role in Chelsea’s familiar 4-3-3 formation, with Florent Malouda and either Salomon Kalou out wide, Ancelotti was guarded over whether he will persist in trying to accommodate both.

“I will take a decision for the next game and I will play my best players,” he added.

The Chelsea manager appears remarkably serene about his own future, displaying a wry smile every time the subject is brought up. The prevailing wind of opinion is that after the Champions League quarter-final defeat to United, Ancelotti is essentially a dead man walking.

But since their loss to Wolves back in January, they have won more points in the Premier League than United — and are the form team in the competition.

Ancelotti said: “We have won five games out of the last six, our moment is good in the Premier League. But in November, December and January we had a lot of difficulties and to come back is difficult.

“I want to see my team play like they played today, not only with the technical ability but with the performance. I don’t ask about my future, I have to wait and see what is the decision of the club. If I am able to stay, I am happy. I would like to continue, obviously.”

Ancelotti’s opposite number Roy Hodgson witnessed his own team’s reawakening put in check and he admitted West Brom are still not out of the relegation picture, despite being 11th in the league.

Hodgson said: “It will continue to be tight, there will be setbacks for us all down there. We had ours today and it is up to us to pick ourselves up.”

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