On Sunday Carlo Ancelotti’s Chelsea finished top of England’s football pile. The man from Reggiolo joined rival José Mourinho as the only coaches to win both the scudetto and the Premier League.
“Carletto” joined the Stamford Bridge club last summer, having been long sought after by Chelsea billionaire owner, Roman Abramovich. He is part of a steadily growing list of Italian coaches now working in England’s top division with Gianfranco Zola and Roberto Mancini at the helm of West Ham and Manchester City respectively. They will be joined by Roberto di Matteo’s West Bromich Albion next season. While the former two are under media scrutiny, dealing with constant speculation about the futures, Ancelotti will awake with the Championship medal around his neck, and the prospect of completing the ‘double’ of league and cup when they take on Portsmouth in the FA Cup final this Saturday. He may even outshine the impressive record of national manager Fabio Capello, unless he brings home the World Cup from South Africa, and Giovanni Trapattoni’s unbeaten World Cup qualification group with the Republic of Ireland.
Abramovich has long wanted his club to play an attacking brand of football – one that could mix winning with playing the beautiful game. Mourinho played in a functional way and got results, Luis Felipe Scolari played absorbingly attractive football, but without the required results. In Ancelotti, he has found the key. A thumping 8-0 victory to secure the title against Wigan at the weekend was an amazing way of rounding off a season – a season in which they managed to score seven goals on a further three occasions. They are the first team to score over 100 goals in the Premier League and completed another record by finishing with a goal difference of +71.
At the beginning of the season, Ancelotti adopted his beloved diamond midfield system that brought him such success at Milan. It allowed him to play both this season’s golden boot winner, Didier Drogba and last season’s, Nicolas Anelka. The press initially drooled as they analyzed a playing system that is rarely used in English football, although concerns grew over the form of goal-scoring midfield player, Frank Lampard. In January however, with Drogba, Jon Obi Mikel and Soloman Kalou away on African Nations Cup duty, Ancelotti reverted to the 4-3-3 system synonymous with Chelsea since “The Special One” arrived in 2004. Whether a tactical masterstroke from an Italian tactician, or a stroke of luck that champions need, Chelsea used it to the glorious end. This freed up Lampard to exceed his best ever goals tally, and also helped another midfield player, Florent Malouda, enter double figures in front of goal.
Ancelotti has already set his stall out for his Chelsea future. He included a compliment to Mourinho in his post-match interview and insisted he wanted to emulate what the Portuguese maestro did at Stamford Bridge, and claim a second league title on the bounce. When you look at the statistics, it is hard to argue against him.