Ancelotti backs Drogba to end Blues' malaise
BLACKBURN RVS 0
Published 17/01/2011 | 05:00
'LAST CHANCE' read the ominous sign that flashed up on the electronic advertising hoardings surrounding the pitch at Stamford Bridge midway through the first half.
Not, it turned out, a message from owner Roman Abramovich in his Caribbean hideaway to his insecure manager Carlo Ancelotti; or a warning from Ancelotti to those senior players in the side who have not been pulling their weight for some time now.
It was, in fact, only an exhortation to brow-beaten supporters urging them to part with more of their cash, this time at the January sale at Chelsea's club shop.
The sentiment could, however, have applied to pretty much anyone in the Chelsea camp of late. Before Saturday's game they had managed 10 points from 11 league games, their worst run for almost 15 years.
Abramovich is expected back in London any day now and on this display it appears the club may have finally turned the corner, and just in the nick of time too.
Following the previous weekend's 7-0 thrashing of Ipswich, Chelsea looked an altogether more confident side, with greater urgency and far fewer simple mistakes.
The major concern for Ancelotti will be that for all Chelsea's dominance their goals, from Branislav Ivanovic and Nicolas Anelka, came from corners.
Although they also hit the bar twice, it remains a concern they could not score from open play.
Chelsea played with their three most experienced strikers in Didier Drogba, Florent Malouda and Anelka, a trio who between them scored 67 goals last season, yet their most potent threat was defender Ivanovic.
His opportunistic shot from Malouda's corner put the champions ahead after 57 minutes, and 19 minutes later he won a header that Anelka knocked in from close range.
"We have our focus back. We are training hard, enjoying our sessions. We are going to get better in the future," the Serb declared.
"We have changed our character. Everyone has been a little bit angry about the things that have happened and we want to show our real power. This is going to count in the games coming up."
Ancelotti was more circumspect in his assessment of Chelsea's progress. "Next we are away at Bolton. It is the key game of our season but my feeling is that we are ready," he said.
"I think that our confidence is improving, we are coming back to play our football."
Ancelotti's optimism is partly based on the belief that Drogba will soon be back to his best.
The 32-year-old Ivory Coast international has struggled since being laid low by malaria earlier this season and continued to look below full power against Rovers.
However, Ancelotti insisted: "Didier is very close to his best. He played a good game for the team."
"He didn't score but it doesn't matter. He played the second half for the team."
Blackburn's moments were few and far between, although David Hoilett forced a wonderful save from goalkeeper Petr Cech when the score was 0-0.
Manager Steve Kean, who flies to India today to meet the club's new owners, gave loan signing Roque Santa Cruz a 45-minute run-out, and hopes to add USA midfielder Jermaine Jones from Schalke very soon. (© Independent News Service)