Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti insisted Nicolas Anelka has never caused him a moment's bother -- and he blasted the French Football Federation for giving him an 18-match ban.
The 31-year-old received the draconian suspension, which applies to France games only, after being sent home from the World Cup following a reported bust-up with coach Raymond Domenech.
Anelka, who has played for nine clubs in 12 years, has a reputation for being a sulky player who can be disruptive and difficult to handle.
But Ancelotti does not recognise that description of his striker.
"He is a very good man. I have never had a problem with him," said Ancelotti. "I was very surprised at this behaviour during the World Cup. If I have to think of one player who would shout at me, Anelka would be the last.
"I think it was unfair for him -- 18 games is too much."
Anelka blasted the FFF as "clowns" and laughed off the ban, insisting he had already retired from international football.
"It is good news for myself because he can stay here to train during the international break, he can maintain a good condition," said Ancelotti.
Anelka was not the only Stamford Bridge star to endure a difficult summer -- but there was no World Cup hangover as Chelsea opened the season with a 6-0 thumping of West Brom.
It was a case of picking up where they left off last season.
Chelsea bagged seven goals on three occasions last year before rounding off the campaign with an 8-0 thrashing of Wigan.
The two sides meet again at the DW Stadium tomorrow and the omens do not look good for Wigan.
Ancelotti is anxious for Chelsea to set the Premier League pace from the outset, while Wigan head into the game on the back of a 4-0 defeat to Blackpool.
"It is very important we make a good start, not just one game," said Ancelotti.
But he was anxious to temper expectations that Chelsea will blast in six goals every week, insisting solidity at the back will be just as important and reminding that Chelsea's first defeat of last season was against Wigan at the DW Stadium.
"I will be happy if we win 1-0. The last game at Wigan we lost 3-1. They caused us a lot of problems there last season."
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