LONDON - Carlo Ancelotti was quickly given a taste of what he can expect in his first season in English football on Saturday when his Chelsea side were handed a jolt by Hull City before scraping a 2-1 opening day victory. The Italian, who took over after temporary manager Guus Hiddink returned to coach Russia having won the FA Cup for the west London club, watched his side misfire before 31-year-old striker Didier Drogba struck twice. Drogba's first, a dipping free kick, cancelled out debutant Stephen Hunt's shock 28th-minute opener for Hull, while his second in stoppage time owed a little to luck as his lofted cross dropped into the net from an acute angle. Whatever Drogba's intentions, it was a relief for Ancelotti who needs the powerful Ivorian striker on top form. Drogba's problems early last season contributed to Luis Felipe Scolari's downfall which culminated in a 0-0 draw with Hull. "For sure I was worried," Ancelotti, whose task is to tear the Premier League away from Manchester United and win the Champions League, told Chelsea's website. "But it is good that the team believes all the time they can score... This match was very difficult because we went behind but we didn't lose the idea... and in the end we deserved to win." The problems Hull caused, particularly in the first half when Ancelotti's preferred diamond-shaped midfield, failed to sparkle, will give him food for thought. However, he said Hull's cagey, defensive style, not unlike that of many Serie A sides, had not taken him by surprise and he anticipates more of the same. "I was not surprised how Hull played because it is normal to have an opponent who stayed in our half and looked to counter-attack," he said. "That is normal, not different, not a surprise. "We played quicker, more aggressive in the second half, but it was not easy because there was not much space in midfield." Ancelotti, who is Chelsea's fifth manager in just under two years, said it would take time for his system to function properly and added they would need to improve. "I do not know the time it will take for the players to get used to it, we have to work but it will take less time if we work like we have in the last month," he said.
15 August 2009
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