Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti banks on his bouncing Cech for Atletico test
21 October 2009 03:09
Set-pieces aside, there's another thing bothering Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti before Wednesday's Champions League clash with Atletico Madrid.
'For me, driving in London is harder than managing Chelsea,' he said.
'In Italy, when I want to look in the mirror, I glance to the right. But when I try that here the mirror is not there. It's on the left side. It is hard for me.'
The same could be said of Chelsea, who have conceded six of eight league goals from set-plays. When the players look round in the box, all they see is the ball in the back of the net and the next bout of recriminations begins.
'We have to improve,' admitted Ancelotti. 'We have to pay attention on set plays in the game. We have two players, one on each post. One player is in front of the near post - that is (Frank) Lampard. And five players to mark, man for man.
'Everybody has his own responsibility - to mark, to stay in his zone or go for the ball. Everybody has a job and a responsibility; everyone.
'Not just one player. I think it is very important that every player takes responsibility for what happens in our box.'
This includes goalkeeper Petr Cech, who is nowhere near the form of 2004-05 when he went 1,024 minutes without conceding a goal as Chelsea swept to their first title under Jose Mourinho.
But his current manager backed the goalkeeper, who is still only 27, to trust his instincts.
Ancelotti said: 'Petr is in good condition. I think that Petr has a fantastic approach.
'He takes a lot of risks because he likes to go up and catch the ball. I like this.
Sometimes he makes mistakes but I want him to go and catch the ball in the air.'
Players taking individual responsibility for their performances was a message echoed by Michael Ballack.
The 33-year-old German missed Chelsea's two Barclays Premier League defeats at Wigan and Aston Villa but felt able to discuss John Terry's obvious anger after James Collins scored Villa's second from an Ashley Young corner on Saturday.
Ballack said: 'His reaction on the pitch showed that he takes a big responsibility - not just for himself but for the team. That's what you need, emotions like that, to make sure it doesn't happen again.
'We speak with each other. We have no problem criticising each other in the dressing room. A good team with strong players has to do this. We've done that, then we shake hands and get back on to the training pitch and try to do better.
'We've spoken about the game, we've trained on set-pieces and special situations, but it's all about individual mistakes. That happens in football, but that's what we have to cut out. Everyone has to improve his movement, his defensive organisation in the box. It's a point of personal attitude: "Don't concede a goal".
'We can train a lot of things, but if someone falls asleep in a situation, we concede a goal. With Carlo, we're really enjoying playing football. We've changed the system a little bit, but the team has adapted really well. That's because of him.'
Ancelotti could not have picked a better time to meet Atletico Madrid. The Spaniards have made a woeful start to the season, mustering just one win from seven La Liga games and conceding 13 league goals away from home.
Chelsea, however, will still have to cope with a front two of Diego Forlan, who scored 32 goals in 33 games last season, and Sergio Aguero, Diego Maradona's son-in-law and an Argentina striker who Chelsea monitored over the summer.
Didier Drogba is out for the last match of his three-game ban tonight and John Mikel Obi, Yuri Zhirkov, Joe Cole, Alex and Jose Bosingwa are all carrying injuries.
Ancelotti was keen to rotate his squad before of the visit on Saturday evening of Blackburn Rovers, a side you can predict will try to play on Chelsea's perceived weakness at set-pieces.
While it is overstating the case to say Chelsea's frailty at corners is the start of some kind of crisis, it certainly represents the first chink in the Ancelotti armour since the Italian's arrival from AC Milan in the summer.
Chelsea remain second in the Premier League and are unbeaten in the Champions League but, just like Ancelotti's driving in London, there's still room for improvement.