Italian on brink of outdoing Mourinho

JUST a few weeks ago the scandals surrounding the alleged extra-marital activities of John Terry and Ashley Cole looked like being the most memorable things to happen to Chelsea this season.

Struggling for form in the Premier League and then dumped out of Europe by Jose Mourinho’s Inter Milan, the Blues’ campaign was in danger of unravelling.

Now, however, only a dramatic and highly unlikely collapse will see them fail to be crowned champions, while few would bet against them to complete the double by beating Portsmouth in the FA Cup final.

A season that has been dominated by negative headlines suddenly looks sure to end in spectacular glory.

Aside from the personal lives of his back four, Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti has also had to contend with lengthy absences of key players.

Midfield powerhouse Michael Essien has missed months while goalkeeper Petr Cech and Cole have both spent spells in the treatment room.

Factor in the Africa Cup of Nations, which accounted for top scorer Didier Drogba and midfield linchpin John Obi Mikel for more than a month, and Ancelotti has been deprived of some important characters.

But the Italian, in his own laidback, understated manner, has taken the highs and lows in his stride and now finds himself on the brink of a stunning debut season.

The double would be a remarkable achievement – one that not even his most adored predecessor, and personal nemesis Morinho managed in three years at the club.