Wednesday 26 July 2017

Ancelotti refutes Terry's claims that weak squad cost Chelsea

Ben Rumsby

Carlo Ancelotti has rejected John Terry's claim that Chelsea's squad was not big enough this season, insisting there was enough quality there to have retained the Premier League title.

Blues captain Terry suggested there was a need for billionaire owner Roman Abramovich to splash the cash again this summer, declaring that too many players were let go at the end of last term.

The decision to offload the likes of Ricardo Carvalho, Michael Ballack, Deco, Juliano Belletti and Joe Cole appeared to backfire when injuries struck and Chelsea embarked on their worst run in the league for almost 15 years. But Ancelotti was adamant that the players he had at his disposal were still good enough to have beaten Manchester United to the championship.

"The squad was good enough," said Ancelotti, whose side's 12-month reign was ended by United yesterday. "We started the season very well, and we finished it very well. The mistake was not being able to manage that bad moment. It was too long, two months, a lot of defeats and draws. Above all, home games. We lost a lot of points in the last minute: Tottenham, Aston Villa, Everton. That was the reason. The strength and power and skills of the squad were good. We lost some players compared to last season, but we still had fantastic players arriving this year."

The only major summer arrivals at Stamford Bridge were Ramires and Yossi Benayoun, although Ancelotti admitted the club had failed in bids to sign Fernando Torres and David Luiz, who eventually joined in January.

"Ramires may not have started so well but, after that, he played fantastic games," he added. "David Luiz as well. Torres had more problems but he came in January and needed to have time. The squad, the power of the squad, was enough to win the title."

Chelsea's decision to let five of their senior players leave at the same time was partly a response to UEFA's new Financial Fair Play regulations, which require clubs to break even over a three-year period.

Ancelotti has always maintained he was fully behind that policy at the time and, despite it looking set to be a key factor behind his likely departure this summer, he once again refused to criticise it. "The decision we took after the end of last season was good, to give more opportunities to the young players to improve their skill and ability," he said.

A lack of goals throughout the team has also contributed to what is set to be their worst season since Roman Abramovich bought the club eight years ago. The Blues scored a record 103 goals on their way to the title last term but have netted less than two thirds of that tally this time with only two games left.

Yet, Ancelotti defended his strikers, saying: "Didier (Drogba) has scored a lot of goals, (Florent) Malouda the same. Only Nicolas (Anelka) has had some problems. (Salomon) Kalou has scored a lot of goals, (Frank) Lampard too."

Today's match with Newcastle could prove to be Ancelotti's final home game in charge of Chelsea.

It might have all been so different had the Blues won last weekend's title showdown at Old Trafford, a result which would have moved them level on points with the new champions. The limp manner of their defeat appears to have sealed Ancelotti's fate, but the Italian was confident he would not be judged on just one performance. "I think my job will be judged over the whole year, not just one game," he said.

Chelsea v Newcastle Utd,

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