Blues Are Off-Colour
Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti has claimed that many of his senior players are still two weeks away from full fitness, even though they will take part in the EPL season’s curtain-raiser against Manchester United this Sunday.
Their EPL opener, a home game against newly-promoted West Bromwich Albion, takes place six days later. But Ancelotti expressed his concerns over the match-readiness of his World Cup participants, who returned to training only last week.
Chelsea’s pre-season form has been indifferent. And in the wake of a 2-1 defeat at Hamburg this week, which followed the same result against Eintracht Frankfurt last weekend, Ancelotti said: “After eight days of training, it is almost impossible to be fit.
“The players that came back on 26 July need to have another two weeks to work. There are some players in good condition and others who need more time to be fit.”
Chelsea’s close-season signings included midfielders Yossi Benayoun from Liverpool and the Brazilian World Cup player Ramires from Portuguese champions Benfica, for a reported 22 million euros (£18.2m).
Controversial “sports entrepreneur” and “agent” Kia Joorabchian part-financed Ramires’ move to Benfica from Brazilian club Cruzeiro. But the Chelsea deal gives the EPL club “full rights” over the holding midfielder.
However much of the summer talk at the Bridge was of a pending move for left-back Ashley Cole to Spanish giants and big-spenders Real Madrid.
Speculation continued this week when Ancelotti had to deny that he was preparing to make a second raid on Benfica by signing left-back Fabio Coentrao as a replacement for Cole.
Ancelotti insisted: “Everyone can forget the idea that he will leave this club. There is no price that will make us sell.
“We believe that he is the best left-back in the world and because of this, he will stay at this club.”
Speculation had mounted over Cole’s future after reports of his increasing disaffection with his public life in England. And the speculation multiplied with the installation of former Chelsea supremo Jose Mourinho as boss at the Bernabeu.
Ancelotti was moved to comment on this too, claiming: “I am not interested in the relationship my player has with other coaches. It’s normal that Mourinho has a good relationship with Ashley Cole but nothing has changed in our position.
“He is a Chelsea player and will remain a Chelsea player.”
There were also mid-summer rumours that striker Didier Drogba was on his way to big-spending Manchester City. But these were quickly quashed.
And the only departures in a relatively quiet close season at Chelsea have been the expected Michael Ballack, Juliano Balletti and Joe Cole with Deco expected to return to his native Brazil, which will accommodate Ramires in the Blues squad.
Of Joe Cole’s departure, and his replacement by Benayoun for an “undisclosed” fee, Ancelotti said: “Joe Cole at Chelsea had a fantastic career but this year is another story.
“We are happy to have Yossi here. Joe was quicker, with respect to Yossi, but tactically I think Yossi is better.”
Tags: Chelsea, Carlo Ancelotti, Yossi Benayoun, EPL, Ashley Cole, Didier Drogba