Scolari Puts His Faith In Anelka

It’s never taken a football-minded genius to suss that Nicolas Anelka’s priority is usually Nicolas Anelka. He didn’t exactly show himself to be the greatest team-player for Chelsea last season after all.

However, under Luiz Felipe Scolari, there has been the odd sign of change. He had a great pre-season and despite being one of his biggest critics so far this season, even I’m forced to admit there seems to have been a slight improvement in some aspects of his game.

Although I still don’t agree with Scolari’s description of Anelka as “one of the best players in the world”, I can still acknowledge his four goals so far this season – and involving himself in ten whilst on his own up front throughout Drogba’s absence – highlights his improved effort this term.

Of the Frenchman, Scolari says “You know, Anelka is one of the best players in the world. But he is very quiet. He is not easily shocked, not very emotional. You can’t disturb his equilibrium. He is very cool. If he plays well, he’s okay. If he doesn’t play very well, he’s okay.”

And yet, despite being ‘ok’, Scolari admits Anelka’s ego needs the odd massage, saying “I need to talk to him – not every day but on special days, one day before the game or at half-time. So I might say to Anelka, ‘look, I think today you will have three chances because of this, this and this’ and then he has three chances, makes one goal. I say, ‘look what I told you’. He’s a man [to whom] you have to say, ‘think about this, think about your life’. He is quick, he dribbles well, he shoots with both feet very well, he has good physique, good control. But sometimes he needs something. He’s a quiet man – in the warm-up, the dressing room, even in life. You never hear from Anelka.”

Not that any of this phases the Chelsea boss, who says “It is a good challenge for me. If we win together it’s fantastic and until now Anelka has done a good job for us.”

So, Scolari certainly seems to have an abundance of belief in Anelka and with Drogba out for a while I’m sure he’s investing even more time massaging the striker’s ego in the hope that his belief pays off. But with reports of Le Sulk missing Friday’s training session with muscle spasms in his leg, it looks as if this week it’s more than his ego that’s needed massaging.

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