11 juni 2009

Tankar om Ancelotti

Även publ Chelsea Vital

I make no secret of being less than enthusiastic about Carlo Ancelotti as Chelsea manager. Still, compared to the other so called candidate, the one that ended up in Turkey (that will be interesting to follow), I picked Ancelotti.

I still wish Chelsea could have worked it out with my big favourite manager (even long before his Chelsea days) or a new thinking in the form of Gianfranco Zola in cohort with Steve Clarke. I do not for a second believe in the talk he is not experienced enough yet, for a club like Chelsea. Pep Guaridola in Barcelona has proven that experience is not the most important ingredient in the make up of a manager. (Which could be equalled by naming Avram Grant as an experiment in that regard at Chelsea earlier).

I have based my objections to Ancelotti on the play of Milan the last two-three years. I found them sadly boring, much more boring than the boring some claim Chelsea are. And a different boring! Intentionally boring, not just for closing down games.

Since being appointed Chelsea manager I have started, maybe even a bit earlier, to change my opinion on Ancelotti. I have since also learned some new things about him that make me much more optimistic. I have definitely warmed up and honestly, he is here now so I really want to like and believe in him.

I do not think the language issue is all that important and I think those that made it important in the Scolari case are silly. Scolari spoke better English than Ancelotti does today. Somehow this is made a problem mainly by English speaking people. Being a non-English first language person it often bothers me when people make language a major issue. Especially in a football club where a minority of the players have English as first language. Language is just one form or ingredient of communication.

Ancelotti is studying hard and just as Fabio Capello has done (with an all English speaking squad) I can not think language will ever be a problem for him in Chelsea. Also Ray Wilkins supposedly speaks Italian and can help out, as others at the club. Chelsea used to have a strong Italian link, almost as strong as Liverpool and their Spanish connection. No - language is not something to worry about. (And it never was with Scolari either).

His boring tactics! That could be an issue, as next to winning the Champions League Chelsea`s biggest goal in life is to play attractive football - according to the know it alls in the media. I think most people with half a brain; and I do think Roman Abramovic has more than that; know that Chelsea will never play attractive football in the media`s eyes out of two reasons. We are Chelsea FC, and we do not have the players in our squad. We would need to replace 2/3, at least, of the squad in order to play the kind of football Chelsea played when I fell in love with them in 1970. Highly inconsistent, even worse than Arsenal, but we sure had the players for attractive football then. Charlie Cooke, Alan Hudson, Peter Osgood, Ian Hutchinson. Peter Houseman was a guarantee for attractive football as much as today`s Arsenal or even Barcelona. (With a very tough no-nonsense defense - Chelsea had all the keys to become a world power, but consistency and staying power were sure not part of the make-up).

Back to boring tactics! All tactics should, read must, emulate from the squad of players, if not the manager is a fool and will last about half a season in that occupation. One can make a stand that with players like Kaka, Pirlo, later Ronaldinho Milan did not need to play tactical football (if we by that term mean boring). But like with Ronaldinho, players were very often forced on Ancelotti like Shevchenko was on José. Players bought by the club, not the manager. A tradition much stronger in Italy and Spain than in England, where the manager at least, up to now, has made the choices about the players, not the club and the technical director. Secondly; Italian football is a tactical monster and has been since Catenacci`s days at Inter in the early 60`s. So maybe Milan`s boring tactics under Ancelotti can be blamed on tradition and club interference more than Ancelotti`s own choice.

I think there is plenty of room for doubt and I give it. It might have been Milan, not Ancelotti that is behind the boring part.

After all Carlo Ancelotti has won two Champions League-titles and at that time they were not considered as boring as lately. And he was runner-up in the freak game where they lost a 3-goal lead in 8 minutes (probably not being considered a boring game, as I remember it Milan was quite amusing to watch in the first half of that game, until their nerves went frayed (un-repairably) in the second.

I am not a fan of tactical football and I honestly think that pre-game tactics have become a bit obsolete in a fashion today. Unlike in the 70`s when the Dutch total-football and the German libero-tactics came, along with the prevailing mantra of 4-4-2 football from England. Today there is no main tactic that rules football. Results are achieved from many different kinds of tactics in football. I still claim that it comes from the players available. Personally I find Liverpool to be the most tactically imprinted team in top football, playing the most boring football. Still others are awarded that epitaph despite.

To me man-management and game-coaching is by far the most important qualities in a manager.

Just about anyone can today with the knowledge, science and statistics in football play the tactical game and counter most moves - if they are shrewd enough. Then you see a tactical old fox like Sir Red Nose fool himself and come up with a game plan like the one Man U used against Barcelona in the CL final - so I might very well be wrong (!).

From what I now have learned Ancelotti is an excellent man-manager. Much better and renowned than I knew before. I think that is particularly important in a club like Chelsea, with our big number of opinionated and strong characters within the squad.

I feel very optimistic that Carlo Ancelotti can handle the locker room. I think that is as important and probably more than his tactical know-how, or even footballing experience. He is an ex-player of some stature and the stars of his Juventus and Milan management all claim he is a very good man-manager. That gives me great hope that he will be able to deal with a multinational, strong-willed team like ours.

We all saw how important this was this last season. Scolari did not have a clue how to deal with Drogba, his personality and the so called problem of playing him and Anelka at the same time. Hiddink solved that problem in a few games and Anelka and Drogba emerged as the most lethal of all partnerships in the premiership in the last months. Man-management. With a totally reborn Malouda.

I totally understand why Drogba wants to meet and talk to Ancelotti before he wants to go into contract talks with the club. It is a very smart move from Drogba. I also think, hope, that he will find a good rapport with Ancelotti. More players should do the same before they change club or stay with a new manager.

When it comes to game-coaching do I not hold Ancelotti among the top managers. He is far from a Guus Hiddink or José Mourinho when it comes to turning around a game and change what is not working during the match. In this I do however feel that it is smart by Chelsea not allowing him to bring in his own people as back-up but to use the Chelsea team. The Chelsea team (Wilkins, Clement) are much more attuned to the need of game changes from the history of JM and Guus. Had Ancelotti brought in his own team, I feel things could be cemented from the bad things in Italian football. Now Carlo Ancelotti has to show his flexibility and leadership, something I believe he has after reading up and listening to him and others.

There is however one thing that really bothers me. It has not really anything to do with Carlo Ancelotti and his capabilities, which I am more and more convinced of could do us good.

It is, why does he not start working for Chelsea until July 1? I hope that is just official and that he has unofficially already hard at work with the silly season requirements of finding the right new players and off-loading the ones Chelsea must release. Because, as it looks Chelsea are not out there working like Real Madrid and Bayern Munich sure are, and it annoys me. Hopefully it is only because Chelsea keep a tight lid on things, scaringly it reminds me of how we all thought Robinho to be a sealed deal until he was kidnapped away from us by Manchester City and a better deal (in money) the very last moments of the silly season last year.





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