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Tuesday 21 August 2018

John Giles: Danish raid just the tonic for Carlo

IF Carlo Ancelotti could have designed the team he wanted to play at this point in time and at this stage in the Champions League, he would have been struggling to come up with better than FC Copenhagen.

Neat and tidy but with a powder puff attack, FC Copenhagen showed every sign that they were at the end of their winter break.

Not quite a soft touch but this was a handy encounter for Ancelotti's players to build up confidence. After months of doom, gloom and interference from on high, it would not have been a surprise at all if Chelsea's Champions League effort had collapsed too.

But Ancelotti caught a break – finally. The draw gave him a fixture against a European lightweight and a chance to regroup.

The game also allowed Fernando Torres to bed in further and there are definite and very positive signs that he can combine reasonably effectively with Nicolas Anelka, the real star turn for Chelsea on the night. I never know what to make of Anelka.

He has never come across to me as a player who carries real hunger and passion for the game inside him, but he was clinical and deadly for his two goals and looked like a man who knew how to lift Chelsea out of the slump they are in.

WOLF

It isn't easy to play with a lad like Torres who has always been a bit of a lone wolf, but it worked on this occasion and Ancelotti will take heart from that.

I'm not sure how he will respond to Didier Drogba who came on for a short spell at the end of the game and had a chance to show his interest in fighting for his place but hardly broke sweat.

I know it's hard to come into a game which is already won and make an impression in the short time available but he could have displayed some hunger.

This is a tonic result for Chelsea and Ancelotti and since the Champions League is now the only target available, he will see this as an excellent night's work.

I feel great sympathy for him. Despite all that he has had to deal with since Ray Wilkins was shown the door, he hasn't blinked other than to direct questions about his future to Roman Abramovich.

He finally saw some light at the end of the tunnel against FC Copehagen, a team which many felt would cause Chelsea problems.

Manchester United's visit to Marseille also carries a health warning. Away form has been poor and Alex Ferguson knows that he has a heavy schedule ahead of his players in the coming few weeks.

Lined up in front of them after this game in the Stade Velodrome are Wigan, Chelsea, Liverpool and the winner of the Arsenal/Orient FA Cup replay.

Plus, of course, the return-leg against Marseille. At this time of the year, Ferguson always comes into his own and with him his best players.

He has nursed Paul Scholes along since August and when he needs him most, he is available to bring his considerable talents to bear.

I see that Ferguson is asking him to sign up for another year at the end of this season and typically, Scholes is slow to do so because he believes he should play in every game and most likely won't if he agrees to an extension.

It is so good to see that; a player in his last days fighting against time and demanding that he plays in every game.

Realistically, Scholes can't play in every game and it's got nothing to do with his age or fitness. All players are subject to rotation and I see no reason at all why he should not play on for as long as he can hold his own.

Scholes holding his own is better than anyone else in the Premier League at the moment and still competitive in the Champions League.

He is one of the reasons I expect Manchester United to get through the next three weeks with all Ferguson's targets still in play.

His first, Marseille, will present him with a tougher challenge than Chelsea had to deal with in Copenhagen but I think Manchester United will get at least a draw.

It looks like Ferguson will run with Wayne Rooney playing wide on the left with Nani on the right flanking Dimitar Berbatov and I will never understand why he does this.

Rooney's form is still very patchy and I can't see any way for him to play himself back if he's lurking out wide on the left where he spent the guts of two seasons while Cristiano Ronaldo ruled the roost.

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