Haunted by the ghost of Christmas past

THE ghost of Christmas past seems to have come back to haunt us at this “festive” period – and the phantom seems to be rather familiar . Ancelotti’s tenure as Chelsea manager appears to be scarily mirroring that of his predecessor Scolari and it’s giving most of us Chelsea fans more than a little bit of indigestion.

Ancelotti displays some very similar traits to Scolari – the most infuriating being his stubbornness.

It has been evident for some time now that his diamond has been sussed yet he has steadfastly refused to change this formation – only finally doing so well into the second half against Fulham.

In previous games he has opted for like-for-like substitutions in the main. But finally, in the second half on Monday, he went more expansive and we were rewarded almost immediately by two goals. What was Ivanovic, our second best player of the season, doing on the bench anyway?

And why was Ashley Cole – who is one of the few players who seems capable of getting to the byline to whip those dangerous crosses in that invariably lead to goals – alongside him? Although the little-seen Russian Zhirkov did pretty well, why could he not play in his left-side midfield position ahead of Ashley? Result, instant width.

Also anyone who plays a formation that completely neutralises Frank Lampard needs their head examining. I am not saying we should be building a team around him, but a midfielder that has been proven to score an inordinate amount of goals year in year out deserves some consideration when putting your team together.

I hope that December, and especially the Fulham game, have taught Ancelotti a valuable lesson and will act as a turning point to his thinking and our season.

Of course the players too need to take their share of responsibility. When you have a gilt edged opportunity in front of goal – as we had on a number of occasions against Birmingham – it’s not the manager’s fault if you shoot wide.

It also should not be necessary for the manager to have to tell the team to communicate with one another on the pitch.

There was a time where Chelsea were almost psychic – predicting each other’s runs, covering each other, automatically moving to exposed areas.

Not now.

I wasn’t overly concerned about January and the African Cup of Nations as I thought we would have enough of a cushion for the odd slip-up but now I am not so sure. Both team and manager now need to prove that they are worthy of winning the league.

Ancelotti looks under pressure and I’m glad it hurts because it’s not much more fun watching it from the fans’ seats either. In fact I am struggling to remember when I enjoyed my football less in recent years than I have done in the past month.

I may yearn for the Mourinho era but it was right and proper that he was not chanted for during the match. It would be akin to asking your ex out on your wedding day to someone else – pretty bad form. I believe the Special One was mobbed outside the ground, which is understandable as we never got to say our goodbyes.

It has been a depressing December but I think we have the players to pull ourselves out of the slump and amongst those are a crop of youngsters who finally seem ready to graduate from the youth set-up and play a role within this season’s competitions.

Borini, Bruma, Matic and Kakuta could all do a job for us, especially with injuries and during the African Cup of Nations.

Daniel Sturridge, too, is now looking like the player that we all thought we’d bought. The little bit of arrogance which was rumoured to be preventing his integration seems to have been dealt with and I have a feeling that he may have a large part to play in January starting with next weekend’s FA Cup Third Round against Watford. Come on Chelsea.

* Contact Trizia on Trizia_f@hotmail.com


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