Watching the Milan derby is always a pleasant experience; it is an important match to both sets of fans and more so this year as a win for Milan would put them with touching distance of Inter going into the end of the season. This year, however, the game took on extra significance as both teams would be playing English opposition in the Champions League. Inter will face Chelsea and Milan will play Man Utd. With Sir Alex Ferguson watching on what will he and Carlo Ancelotti make of their opposition.
Leonardo started with a 4-3-3 and it become evident early on that the middle three of Gattuso, Ambrosini and Pirlo were being overran. Sneijder, before being sent off, was finding too much space. There is an imbalance in those three players as all three are naturally deep players but all three seemed to compensate for the others by going forward. This left too bigger gap between the defence and midfield and Inter exploited it.
Going forward the two full backs did not offer any quality but could easily get up and down for overlapping runs. Pirlo was disappointing as the creative player in the midfield. Beckham, when he had the ball on the far right provided some trademark crosses but Borriello was too isolated and easily picked up by the Inter defence. Ronaldinho will cause Ferguson the most problems. Although not on top form tonight it was clear that he was a handful for Maicon. Man Utd have problems at right back and these could be exploited by Leonardo.
Overall it should be an easy win for Man Utd but with a note of caution. An orthodox 4-4-2, giving support to Borriello could see a tougher game.
Inter played a 4-3-1-2 system, a change for Mourinho which I think has been made with one eye on the Chelsea game. He knows that they don’t play with a lot of width so is getting used to packing the centre channel of the pitch. The three central midfielders were all very defensively minded and this enabled not only Sneijder, Militio and Pandev to play without fear but either full back could go forward and have suitable cover. I am particularly looking forward to seeing Maicon against Ashley Cole. There is also a solid centre to Inter’s defence; Julio Cesar (best goalkeeper in the world in my opinion), Lucio, Samuel and Materazzi.
Inter certainly have the better team and with Eto’o to return from duty in Africa Chelsea should be concerned about their chances. Mourinho will be spot on with his tactics against them and who knows Chelsea’s weaknesses better than him.
The axe has fallen on Peter Kenyon. Unlike what is being made out by Chelsea he has not resigned – he has been sacked.
If he were to be resigning then he would not make comments such as ‘I have one more challenge in me’. Kenyons sacking indicates conclusively that he was at fault for the Kakuta incited (where Chelsea can not buy players for the next two transfer windows) and that, whilst they will appeal, it is unlikely to be successful.
He is one of footballs characters and I will miss him. Always reliable to put his foot in it, or be caught having dinner with people he shouldn’t be having dinner with.
But who to replace him? Will Chelsea, like Man City and Liverpool, look outside the sporting world or will Abramovich’s friend Arnsen be promoted again. Or, will Ancelotti have a say and give Chelsea a more Italian structure. Maybe an ex-player (think Leonardo) will take the role? Guillit? Desailly?
If I were a betting man then it might be an ex-Chelsea player who has had dealings with Ancelotti in the past.
To turn a popular advertising slogan around – “was he worth it?”
That will be the question Roman Abramovich is asking Bruce Buck, Frank Arnesen and Peter Kenyon. I’m sure this is not news to most readers but Chelsea have been banned from registering any new players in either of the following two transfer windows, i.e. 1st Jan – 31st Jan and 1st July – 31st August 2010.
It is arguable as to whether they need any new players. Chelsea have started the season incredibly well and are many peoples favourite for the title this year. Furthermore, this is the team that were the only ones capable of stopping Barcelona last season and are serious contenders for the Champions League.
The problems for Chelsea will arise when players who are not getting regular first team football (Alex, Kalou, Joe Cole (?), Deco, Ferreria) want to leave in order to find that regular starting spot. It has become almost customary to let a player leave if he wants and examples have been seen in the most recent transfer window (Ronaldo, Michael Turner, Alonso). Chelsea no longer have that luxury as they can not replace the want away player.
Only time will tell how the squad will be affected by the lack of incoming players. I suggest that if they can continue their good form and stay injury free then everything should be fine. If, however, Ancelotti starts ‘doing a Scolari’ then it could be very difficult to motivate those who desperately want to win more trophies before their careers end. If they see Chelsea as standing still then will they stay? Doubt it.