In moments of crisis, return to basics. Carlo Ancelotti wrote his dissertation for his coaching diploma on the 4-3-2-1, and it was to the Christmas tree he returned against Manchester United at Old Trafford. It might have been an inspired reversion -- and indeed it did address some of the problems Chelsea had suffered in the first leg -- but in the harsh light of a 2-1 defeat it may seem like a doomed manager scrabbling desperately for the comforts of the familiar.
When Carlo Ancelotti arrived at Chelsea in summer 2009, he started off playing 4-4-2 with a midfield diamond. That paired Nicolas Anelka and Didier Drogba as strike partners, with Frank Lampard tucked behind. It rapidly became apparent that Lampard is far better played with the ball in front of him than playing with his back to goal.
It was somehow appropriate that at the end of French soccer's annus horribilis, the man whose alleged halftime rant kick-started the World Cup's most astonishing team meltdown continued his row with the French football federation and accused it of "another provocation."
It's been over two months since France's players went on strike during the World Cup in protest of the French football federation's decision to send home striker Nicolas Anelka, but it might as well have been yesterday given the mess the team faces as its Euro 2012 qualifying campaign gets under way.
Deadly, lethal, prolific -- just a few adjectives often used to describe Team Limey's nightclub performances on a Saturday night. Back in the real world, these are apt descriptions of the elite goal-scorers discussed in this week's column. More specifically, we're looking at who we think will be donning the Golden Boot as the English Premier League's top scorer this season.
The Champions League final: dramatic, riveting, emotional. So many interwoven tales -- of heroism and euphoria, of loss and heartache. One hundred and twenty minutes of pulsating soccer followed by a heart-in-mouth penalty shootout to decide it all.
Like most English Premier League managers, Team Limey has been working off the excesses of Christmas and New Year to battle with a horde of like-minded bargain-hungry individuals perusing the January sales.