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Learning from Ancelotti’s Mistakes

Learning from Ancelotti’s Mistakes

After their cup double last season, Chelsea began this season’s Premier League with a strong start. Winning seven of their first eight league matches, Chelsea have spent seven rounds in first position. The last time Chelsea began the season as impressively as this was 2010-11. Coming off a domestic double winning season, Carlo Ancelotti’s team only lost once and drew once in their first ten league matches.
But then everything fell apart, after fourteen rounds in first position Chelsea slipped down to fifth place before they managed to regain themselves and finish the season in second. By analysing the mistakes of the 2010-11 season it can be seen how Chelsea under Roberto Di Matteo can avoid making similar mistakes as they also see their winning start beginning to slip away.
RDM’s team has recently suffered consecutive loses to Shakhtar Donetsk and Manchester United. While looking to get their season back on track the Blues unfortunately drew their next match away to Swansea. With upcoming home fixtures against Shakhtar and Liverpool, Robbie will have to show his team are not falling apart once again.
Carletto’s tactics were being questioned even before his team began to fall down the league ladder. His substitutions never seemed significant enough, mostly Ancelotti was simply swapping players from the same position. Once Chelsea began losing matches, these substitutions were not helping. When more attacking players were needed they were not being added.
After winning the 2011-12 Champions League playing defensive, counter-attacking football, Di Matteo has since shown his tactical ability with Chelsea’s new dynamic, attacking system. Using the likes of Mata, Oscar and Hazard to pass and play their way around the opposition has seen Chelsea being labelled a new Barcelona. They may not be playing tiki-taka football, but Chelsea is certainly playing very impressive football. While RDM’s tactics when under pressure are yet to impress, he has certainly shown an extensive tactical understanding of the game.
Another issue with Carletto’s 2010-11 Chelsea was their squad problems. Insufficient transfers were brought in to replace the summer departures. Key playersdeparting the club included Joe Cole (to Liverpool), Michael Ballack (to Bayer Leverkusen), Deco (to Fluminense) and Ricardo Carvalho (to Real Madrid), while the major summer imports only included Ramires (from Benfica) and Yossi Benayoun (from Liverpool). Winter saw Fernando Torres (from Liverpool) and David Luiz (from Benfica) added to the squad. It also seemed that Ancelotti’s purchases were not used effectively enough. Yossi Benayoun’s insignificance to the team has been made evident by his recent loans to Arsenal and West Ham. While Ramires seemed to take him time to settle in and begin playing well. Torres was in poor form before he departed Anfield, and it has often been felt that Ancelotti was pressured into playing the striker despite the form of Drogba and Anelka. 
Di Matteo has also seen a number of key players depart and his new players must prove themselves as sufficient replacements. This summer saw the departure of Didier Drogba (to Shanghai Shenhua), Salomon Kalou (to Lille) and Michael Essien (on loan to Real Madrid). With the intention of building a younger more attacking squads RDM replaced these key players with Marko Marin (from Werder Bremen), Eden Hazard (from Lille) and Oscar (from Internacional).
Unlike Ancelotti, it has been seen the RDM is getting the best out of his new players. Oscar and Hazard have combined well with Mata to help create Chelsea’s new dynamic, attacking system. Ramires and Torres have also been used more effectively by the new manager, both important in last season’s Champions League success. Torres’ form has also improved considerably; he may not be scoring ridiculous amounts of goals but is assisting with their creation and with taking-apart defences.
A major criticism of the Blues in recent years is the constant interference of their owner. The sacking of Ray Wilkins was seen as a turning point of Chelsea’s 2010-11 season. When Abramovich fired the assistant coach in order to replace him with his own choice, Ancelotti lost confidence in his own tactics and his team. Abramovich continued to interfere, wanting Chelsea to play with flair he saw fit to sign Brazilians Luiz and Ramires and Spaniard Torres. If he wasn’t already having enough problems, this interference further disrupted Ancelotti’s management of the club.
This is one problem that will not likely be fixed any season soon. Abramovich is still interfering, as seen by the sacking of Ancelotti, and the subsequent hiring and firing of Andre Villas-Boas before Di Matteo took over. The Russian owner has informed RDM he wants a youthful squad playing a tiki-taka style. This has influenced Robbie’s summer transfers and his altered tactics.
The 2010-11 Chelsea squad was too dependent of key players, with insufficient reserves to replace these players once injured. This was another mistake made by Ancelotti, and a number of injuries depleted his squad. Didier Drogba suffered from Malaria during
the season, and after recovering from a hernia operation, Frank Lampard was further sidelined for four months after an abductor muscle injury. 
After suffering a new injury during the Champions League defeat to Shakhtar, Lampard is expected to be out for a number of weeks. During these weeks RDM’s squad depth and dependence of a small number of key players will be made clear. At 34, Frankie’s importance to the team will be shown by Chelsea’s performances while younger players replace him in the midfield. 
Ancelotti’s father became very sick in Milan during the 2010-11 season, before he passed away. This created a distraction for Carletto, whose mind was not fully on the problems at the club as he worried about his family in Italy. In their current season, Chelsea will be hoping for better luck. Injuries and personal issues are always unfortunate for a club, and while attempts can be made to reduce their affect, they can never be eliminated.
It is during the next few matches that RDM must prove that he and his team are not making the same mistakes as Ancelotti. Without Lampard in upcoming matches against Shaktar and Liverpool, the likes of Oscar and Hazard will be expected to step up their performances for the three points. All the Chelsea players, managers and fans will be hoping for better luck this season because we all know the Blues have a team and a manager that can win big things.
Justin Cormick

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