With the exception of the travelling involved, I think it’s fair to say yesterday’s Champions League draw wasn’t too bad for us.
Club secretary David Barnard certainly thinks so and believes having the final at Wembley might give us a bit more incentive to progress in this year’s competition. Following the draw, Barnard stated “We’ve got to be fairly happy with that. Since Wembley opened we’ve been there eight times now. You like to play a final on foreign soil, obviously for our supporters and the occasion, but you never know, Wembley is a lucky omen for us and may well be this year.”
Since Abramovich arrived in 2003, many managers have tried and failed to deliver the trophy he really wants, with Avram Grant coming closest, narrowly losing out to Manchester United on penalties in the 2008 final. But with us in a decent enough group and following on from the domestic double Carlo Ancelotti delivered in his first season for Chelsea, Florent Malouda feels we could master it this time round.
Malouda has found his best form at Chelsea but at 30, obviously realises time is short although his desire clearly isn’t. The Chelsea winger insists “I am 30 now and I know a career is short. I really want to enjoy my career more. There is no better side than Chelsea in Europe and right now the aim is to win the Champions League. It was a wonderful experience to win the Premier League last season and I want to keep it. When you’re at a club like this, you have to win. I want it every year, to be on top and there is no second place. I always want to be first.”
Are either of them right though?
I don’t actually agree with Malouda’s statement that there isn’t a better side in Europe but that doesn’t mean to say we couldn’t win it. This 25 man rule worries me in that whilst we have the experienced players, should we succumb to injury, it looks as if we’ll largely be calling on much more inexperienced youngsters to cover and that’s risky.
Not that I think the expectations of our older players were all that high last season and yet, in his first season in charge, Carlo Ancelotti managed the Premier League and FA Cup double and whilst it’s true to say we’ve added very little to the squad – and have taken plenty away – Ancelotti has now had the time to get to know his squad and should therefore know a little more about how to get the best out of them across a tiring Premier League season. He also knows how to win the Champions League.
So you never know……