No one could blame Carlo Ancelotti for letting his calm and collected demeanour slip, as he delivered a single fist pumped salute towards the Matthew Harding Stand during the Wigan game. Whilst the 8 nil victory was the perfect statement on the pitch, Ancelotti’s gesture was the perfect way of summing up his delight at wrestling back the Premier League title from Manchester United at the very first attempt. As the dust settles on another exhilarating season, there can be no doubts that Chelsea have truly deserved the title in all respects.
Ancelotti’s Chelsea have gone a long way to appeasing the neutrals somewhat. Criticised in the past for their cautious and defensive victories, Chelsea have simply been awesome going forward this season. The 7 goal beatings handed out to Sunderland, Aston Villa and Stoke at Stamford Bridge showed that sitting back on a lead just wasn’t part of the Ancelotti formula, as they punished teams time and time again- Drogba, Lampard and co. revelling in putting the lesser teams to the sword.
Roman Abramovich has always demanded that his team should always play with a certain style and attacking flair. Winning isn’t always enough, as Jose Mourinho found out to his cost. Carlo Ancelotti has certainly not disappointed the owner in that respect, with the West London side plundering an incredible 103 goals in the league- a Premier League record, breaking United’s previous best of 97.
A clean sweep of victories in the ‘Big 4’ clashes also underlines their pedigree for the big games this season. Home and away wins against Utd and Arsenal have proved to be absolutely key, with the win at Old Trafford confirming that the title was theirs to lose during the run-in.
There have been many obstacles and difficulties along the way as you would expect during a league campaign, however Carlo Ancelotti has shown his true class at the way he has dealt with them without the fuss and media hype of his more outspoken predecessor. The quiet Italian is nothing other than a gentleman of the game.
The John Terry / Wayne Bridge scandal as well as stories of Ashley Cole’s marriage, threatened to jeopardise the dressing room harmony. Ancelotti simply allowed the controversies to run their course and decided to concentrate on football instead. John Terry was kept on as captain, and the fuss was forgotten about.
Chelsea are also deserved champions on the basis of a team’s ability to cope with squad setbacks. Injuries definitely took their toll on Chelsea’s bid to halt Manchester United’s run of 3 consecutive titles. They have been without the class and power of Michael Essien nearly all season, whilst Ashley Cole and Mikel have also missed large chunks of the campaign.
It is also worth remembering that Didier Drogba’s participation in the African Cup of Nations in January was touted as a major blow. It turned out that it was nothing more than a slight blip, as Nicolas Anelka showed his quality and kept Chelsea top in the absence of his more illustrious strike partner. It is hard imagining either United or Arsenal coping without Wayne Rooney or Robin Van Persie for a month, with Arsenal’s case certainly illustrated by their impotent form over the winter after losing the Dutchman.
Ancelotti has already started to plan for a Chelsea dynasty, predicting dominance and plenty more titles in the future. Commendable sentiments; however there are some doubts towards whether he will find it as easy to repeat such a swashbuckling season.
The ageing squad will certainly need to be given a lift, with replacing the outgoing Joe Cole a priority. Chelsea have been far from invincible this season, with the title race unnecessarily going down to the wire due to their inconsistencies away from home. The defeats against Wigan and Aston Villa spring to mind.
Despite the taste of champagne still fresh on everybody’s lips, Chelsea’s season is still not over with further glory on the horizon. Only financially-stricken Portsmouth can deny them completing the club’s first ever league and cup double at Wembley in a week’s time. If as expected, they dispatch the South Coast side, it will cap off a historical and monumental season for the Blues.