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Great Article in This is London


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From: http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard-spo...istory-books.do

Petr Cech confident Chelsea can march into the history books

Simon Johnson Simon Johnson


They say one week is a long time in politics, so the three that are left in the run-up to the general election will feel like a lifetime. But if Prime Minister Gordon Brown is trying to seek any kind of inspiration over how to turn what appears to be defeat into potential glory, then he need only look at what has happened at Chelsea Football Club over the past 21 days.

While comparing a government's fortunes with that of a leading football club may seem wide of the mark they do, bizarrely, have a lot in common right now.

Chelsea have been written off, coach Carlo Ancelotti has been accused of lacking the spark of his predecessor and there have been complaints over spending in the wrong areas. It's a story that could quite easily be at the front of the paper describing the current predicament of New Labour.

Few experts can see the latter emerging victorious come 6 May, yet most observers, including myself, couldn't envisage Chelsea ending the current campaign with a historic Double three weeks ago either and yet now, the title and FA Cup are within their grasp.

They appeared to be waving the white flag of surrender following the dismal 1-1 draw at Blackburn, which came five days after they were knocked out of the Champions League by Inter Milan.

There were some who could not understand the criticism, pointing out that Chelsea were still second in the table and in the FA Cup semi-finals. But those who had watched Chelsea on a weekly basis could see a team in decline — as their run of five wins from 11 games demonstrated.

More significantly was the lack of team spirit on the pitch, something the club have taken great pride in since they became one of the leading powers in English football.

The fact owner Roman Abramovich held a training ground inquest with the staff and players last month, which was followed by the squad having a crisis meeting themselves after the slip-up at Ewood Park, emphasises just how close Chelsea were to imploding.

It is to the immense credit of coach Ancelotti and his team that they have won four straight games since then, including the potential title decider at Old Trafford.

They take on Bolton tonight knowing that another victory will lift them four points clear of Manchester United at the top of the table — a turn of events which will mean they effectively have one hand on the trophy and critics, like me, eating their words.

Any mistakes against Owen Coyle's side will invite pressure once again, yet it appears unlikely with momentum and a sense of purpose back on their side.

Ancelotti's decision to revert to the 4-3-3 formation the players have preferred since Jose Mourinho introduced it in 2004, was brave and showed a lack of stubborness and ego.

The club's mini injury crisis ensured a more consistent team selection and the sight of Alex appearing alongside John Terry in central defence. It has meant the captain, as well as the team, look far more assured at the back.

For one agonising month goalkeeper Petr Cech watched Chelsea's campaign falling apart, unable to help due to a thigh injury. His return to the first team coincided with the upturn in their fortunes and now he has a place in the record books in his sights.

He said: “Not many teams are able to win the league and cup Double. If we win it, it will go down as the best-ever Chelsea season.

“Chelsea have never won it in their history and we are only a few steps away from doing so. Many of the players have made their mark on the club by winning the title but to do a Double will put us in the history books, we will never be forgotten.

“In football you have funny periods when, although you try hard, do things right, it all goes wrong. We had a little period where, although we were

working hard and doing our best, we always ended up dropping points and also got knocked out of the Champions League.

“I was injured for some of it and for me it was a case of deja vu. Unfortunately, it has happened to me a few times where I have been sidelined and come back with us chasing everything.

“This time there was not a big difference. When I came back we were not far away from Manchester United and it was really up to us to win the games and to win at Old Trafford to go back ahead. It shows the character of the team to pick ourselves up and we have done it the right way with the big wins against Portsmouth, Aston Villa and at Old Trafford. But if we don't follow that up against Bolton then it will have another dimension.

“We have played some crazy games against them. It's strange because we always do well at the Reebok. They can't beat us there, but they always make it difficult for us at home.

“They had to watch us twice winning the title on their ground, so maybe that's why they have been trying hard to spoil things in recent seasons at Stamford Bridge.â€

But now, surely nothing and no one can spoil Chelsea's march to their first title in four years.


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