Is Andriy Shevchenko ‘In The Past’?

Andriy Shevchenko has surely got to regret the day he ever listened to Roman Abramovich because from the minute he agreed to leave AC Milan, citing the Russian’s persistence as a factor, his football career has gone into free-fall. It might have all started well with a goal against Liverpool in the FA Community Shield on his debut, but 14 goals in his first season fell a little short of expectations. Undoubtedly, he’s popped up with important goals in the past two seasons, particularly in the Champions League, but a spate of injuries hasn’t exactly helped his efforts to recapture his form any more than five league goals last season helped him regain his confidence.

Sadly, that doesn’t look like improving in the near future either because, despite taking part in the majority of training sessions on Chelsea’s current tour, having undergone a groin operation during the summer, Shevchenko seems to be trailing behind the rest of the team in terms of both fitness and form.

Shevchenko came on as a substitute against Lokomotiv Moscow in the Railways Cup on Friday and with Bridge failing to put his spotkick away, Sheva was left with the decisive penalty. Sadly, as only Shevchenko’s luck would have it, the keeper managed to stick out a foot and that was the end of another shootout in Moscow.

Fair play though, having brought Sheva on with 15 minutes of the game remaining – a decision that ultimately won’t have helped his self-esteem much – Scolari stated “One penalty will not change my idea of Shevchenko. It was not his mistake, it was mine. I said to them before the game that if it went to penalties I’d choose the players to take them. I told them if we didn’t win it would be my mistake, not theirs.”

However, after already inadvertently referring to trusting Sheva with a penalty as a mistake, Scolari then goes on to stumble all over a man already on his knees, by making it clear Andriy isn’t part of his immediate plans. Even with Chelsea playing AC Milan today, there probably won’t be much time for sentiment, with Scolari stating “I came here to this tournament to look at my team for the game against Portsmouth and I need to prepare my team for that game. If I have a chance to put three or four more players into the game, I will. If not, I will follow my idea for the game against Portsmouth. I’m not thinking about giving Shevchenko a game. If I need to put him or Franco Di Santo in the game, I will, but my idea is about Portsmouth.”

But, with Shevchenko probably still licking his wounds and considering his options, his former boss does an equally indelicate job of offering his support. On the one hand, Carlo Ancelotti insists Chelsea have not seen the best of Shevchenko yet, suggesting the lack of form which has prevented the Ukrainian from reaching anything like the form which saw him score 127 goals in 208 games at the San Siro, is purely psychological. Confirming his belief that Sheva simply hasn’t settled in London, Ancelotti says “When he moved to Chelsea from Milan, that is a hard thing to do. He had to move to another country and the environment changed. These factors obviously affected his condition. He has great talent. If he overcomes these problems, he will achieve a lot at Chelsea.”

However, despite never-ending speculation regarding a return within the last two years and the bigging up of his former striker, Ancelotti rules out any possibility for the prodigal son by saying “Now he has a new life and he belongs to Chelsea. We are thankful to him and wish him all the best, but he is in the past.”

I guess that’s one way of putting it.

As for Chelsea though, we’ll just have to hope it’s only Milan he fails to make a return to.