Ancelotti: Players face axe if private blues upset form
CARLO Ancelotti has warned his players that he will not hesitate to drop them if he feels their personal lives are damaging their performances on the pitch.
The Chelsea dressing-room has been at the centre of a media storm in recent weeks, from the stories surrounding John Terry's sex life and financial dealings that led to him being stripped of the England captaincy last week to fresh allegations yesterday regarding the mobile phone habits of Ashley Cole. The England left-back is alleged to have sent explicit photographs of himself to a model.
Ancelotti has repeatedly stated that he does not monitor his players' private lives, but will take an interest if their form dips. The Chelsea manager refused to pick Ronaldinho on several occasions at AC Milan last season as a result of the Brazil forward's fast living and is prepared to make an example of the biggest names at Chelsea, including the captain.
Terry has been given steadfast support to date and will miss today's FA Cup fifth-round tie against Cardiff City after flying to Dubai to be with his wife, but such indulgence will last only as long as he continues to perform. The 29-year-old is due back at the club on Wednesday and is expected to return in the Premier League match away to Wolves a week today.
"When I see that a player's personal life is affecting their performances, I will act," Ancelotti said yesterday.
"When a player's private life affects the professional life of other players then it's a problem for me, but that's not happening here.
"If a player comes back to the training ground and he's not focused or doesn't work hard, I will treat him differently. If they come here and are professional -- and I have fantastically professional players -- then I'm not involved in other things."
Ancelotti will make several changes to his team today after admitting that many of his players are suffering from fatigue. Petr Cech, Branislav Ivanovic and Nicolas Anelka will be rested, with Frank Lampard captaining the side in Terry's absence.
"Some players are tired," Ancelotti said. "They need to have some days to recover to prepare for the next game. After this game we will have a very good week to work and prepare for Wolves and Inter (in the first leg of the Champions League round-of-16 tie on February 24)."
Yuri Zhirkov will start his 11th game for the club, at left-back in place of Cole, with Ancelotti acknowledging that the Russia player has a daunting task filling in for a player considered to be one of the best in the world in his position.
Cole had surgery on his broken left ankle yesterday, but Ancelotti insists that he could yet return for the club this season. "I'm disappointed because Ashley is a very important player for us, but it happens that players get an injury," he said.
"I hope he recovers quickly and comes back before the end of the season. That's a realistic possibility. He will have surgery today and we hope to recuperate him quickly.
"When a player has an injury, it's normal that he's depressed. I had a lot of injuries in my career and was depressed. But after the depression, you have to look forward. You have to rest, to recover and to work. Ashley has a fantastic spirit to do this.
"I'm sure he will be back before the time the doctor has said. I know him and he will put in the work to recover well."
Ancelotti added that while it was unlikely to find another player such as Cole, his confidence in Zhirkov was based, in particular, on the player's performances in a Russia shirt.
"He had an injury at the start of the season, some problems, but that's normal to need time to live in another country with another language," Ancelotti said. "His language is better now and he played well in the last game. His character is good." (© The Times, London)
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