West Ham United v Chelsea: Respect, Revenge and Rivalry

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Carlo Ancelotti sold Gianfranco Zola  to Chelsea for £4.5m in 1996  when he was managing the Italian side Parma’s. Gianfranco Zola went on to become a legend at the west-london club being voted as the best ever Chelsea player by the Chelsea fans in 2003. Carlo Ancelotti went on to become one of the world’s best football managers leading his teams to many titles including 2 Champions League titles. Ancelotti still rues the day he sold Zola over tactical disagreement with the player. Ancelotti wanted to play a 4-4-2 system but the impish Zola wanted to play in the centre as a striker. Carlo a Zola fan admits to it being one of the  biggest mistakes of his career blaming his managerial inexperience at the time. He is however quick to see the silver-lining; Zola wouldn’t have had the great success that he had with Chelsea had he not sold him.

Today, the two men meet again as Zola’s former club Chelsea being managed by his former Parma manager Carlo Ancelotti go to play West Ham United which Zola currently manages to try and extend their lead and go 6 points clear of Manchester United, who were completely outplayed by Fulham last night,  at the top the Premier League Table.Zola must beat the club that made him a legend if West Ham United are to climb out of the relegation spots of the Premier League Table, but may be it would be simpler for him if he thought of it as the team of the man who failed to see his potential so many years ago and sold him, even though that turned out to be the first step to his becoming the success that he became! Claudio Ranieri once famously said of  Gianfranco Zola, “Gianfranco tries everything because he is a wizard and the wizard must try” but the fact that West Ham United haven’t won this East London versus West London derby since 2003 doesn’t help. Its not going to be easy, however with or without the history… beating Chelsea rarely is… easy.


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