At the managers press conference yesterday in Cobham, Carlo Ancelotti urged caution as his unbeaten side, the only team in the country with a perfect record, head to East London to face a side who have yet to pick up a solitary point, rivals West Ham United.
“I think it will be a tough game because West Ham are not in a good moment, they lost three games, they didn’t have a good start for the season and maybe they have a great opportunity to fight against a team at the top,’ he said.
‘We have to know it can happen, against Wigan we had a lot of difficulty in the first half and it could be the same tomorrow.”
“I think that Avram Grant has good experience and knowledge about football, he is able to manage the players. West Ham is a club with history and I think Avram can have a good job there”
With regards to the Hammers poor start to the season, Carlo expressed shock but also offered praise for the East London Clubs start players.
“I was surprised because they have good players in all positions, the strikers are very good, Cole and Piquionne are fantastic and in midfield they have Parker, and Upson in central defence.”
When questioned as to whether or not he felt West Ham would be relegated this season, Carlo lent his support to his opposing manager, ex Chelsea boss Avram Grant.
“I am sure West Ham will have a good season. I don’t think they will be involved in the bottom at the end.”
With many of the current first team squad left over from Grant’s spell in charge, Ancellotti was quick to dismiss the idea that the Hammers manager had a psychological and tactical advantage having worked with the players himself.
“No I don’t think so, everybody knows this club and you can see with DVD’s all the players so I don’t think Avram has an advantage”
Moving away from the topic of the West Ham fixture, the manager faced difficult questions regarding the fitness of John Terry and his withdrawal from international duty this week due to a hamstring injury.
Speculation had been growing in the media that the injury was not as severe as was reported by the club and that Terry’s ambition with the England national team had waived. In the past the Chelsea skipper had previously played on through the pain barrier with former injuries. Carlo however was adamant that this was not the case and that the Chelsea skipper is as committed as ever to the Three Lions.
“John Terry is nearly 30 years old, he needs more recovery. At 26 or 27 it is normal behaviour to play like this. He is a strong character, he loves to play for the shirt and also you have to be realistic. He has a desire to play again.”
Ancelotti spoke highly of his captain and suggested that by allowing his body more rest from the physical demands he places on himself, he could prolong his career much like another defensive leader formally under his tutelage, AC Milan and Italy legend Paulo Maldini.
“Terry is like Maldini, he trains and he works hard everyday, this is the key to a long career.”
Sticking with the topic of internationals, Ivory Coast centre forward Didier Drogba was rested by his home nation during the international break, though still travelled with the squad. The manager suggested that Didier was able to play again with the team, was key to their success and would have no reservations about the international side selecting him to play.
“Ivory Coast needs Drogba, if they player is fit then he can leave to play.”
Carlo was also quick to rubbish reports that Chelsea’s Champions League opponents, Olympique Marseilles, had tried to sign Drogba after L’OM club president Jean-Claude Dassier announced on Thursday that the current French champions had failed in an attempt to bring the Ivorian striker back to Stade Velodrome before the transfer window closed.
“This is not true.”
“There was no bid for Drogba, and if they try to come back for him in January then they already know what our answer will be.”
Check back tomorrow to read Carlo’s high praise for Gael Kakuta, thoughts on his relationship with Roman Abramovich and all the reaction from Chelsea’s trip to West Ham United.