Belfast Telegraph

Premier League in Pictures: Chelsea 5 Blackburn Rovers 0

Jose Mourinho would probably have torn him off a strip for a showboating performance like this, but instead Joe Cole left the pitch to be met by a handslap and a bear-hug from his delighted manager.

Carlo Ancelotti could barely hide his enthusiasm for the performance of Cole on his first Premier League start for 10 months. The manager who is flitting between London and his hometown of Reggiolo to visit his sick father Giuseppe, was almost as thrilled as the player himself.

Cole revealed afterwards that Ancelotti's enthusiasm comes from a personal, painful understanding of the particular demands of returning to the game from knee injuries, after suffering during his playing career as a midfielder in the 1980s with Roma and Milan.

The Chelsea manager made Cole wait another month after a run-out in the Carling Cup before giving him the chance to parade his talents in the Premier League, but the England midfielder revealed the reason was to allow him more time to become fully fit again.

Cole said: "He had knee injuries in his career and he knows all about it. He played at the top level, that's really helped. You want to impress a new manager and when you're not quite right in training, you're not as fit as the other guys, it's hard.

"Some players have knee injuries and he knows it's difficult to come back. That's great to have. When managers don't play the game, sometimes they don't understand because they've never been through it.

"You have great managers who have never played the game and they can't relate to players in those situations. He knows it's horrible playing with an injury. It was difficult at times, but he kept telling me to keep calm, play simple and just let it flow."

Cole is perhaps having a sly dig at Mourinho in his comment about "great managers" as the "Special One" liked to rush players back from injury as fast as possible. A dig or not, Cole seems more comfortable under Ancelotti even if he has had to wait for his chance.

But then again waiting is something to which Cole has become accustomed. Eight months out with a cruciate ligament injury; 10 years since someone has given him the chance to play in his favoured role linking midfield and attack, at the point of the diamond.

Cole said: "I ain't going to lie. The position suits me down to the ground. If I was a manager I would put myself in that position. I love it. But I'm not going to start saying, 'I want to be playing here, there, and every week'. I'm just happy to be playing for Chelsea.

"This was my position when I started my career in the youth team. Unfortunately I haven't played in a team that has played that system so I have had to adjust my game and play off the left or off the right. I enjoy it in there, it's more natural for me to play there," he said.

Cole's performance, which included an outrageous cross with his right leg wrapped around the back of his left, was the cherry on top of a devastating performance by Chelsea, who simply destroyed Blackburn. The visitors went into the break 1-0 down after Gaël Givet diverted a low cross from the excellent Nicolas Anelka into his own goal.

But after the interval Chelsea ran riot with Frank Lampard scoring twice, once from the penalty spot, Michael Essien firing in from 35 yards, and Didier Drogba nodding in a corner.

Blackburn manager Sam Allardyce delivered a brutally frank assessment of his side, questioning whether they have the mental strength he demands. "I am very concerned," he said.

"We just opened ourselves up again and said, 'Score as many as you want'. They've got to stick to the game plan, not just lose whatever we are trying to do just because we go 2-0 down. What they are deciding is, 'We are 2-0 down, let's forget about that and let's go and try and score three'. Well that's a bit naive to say the least, at Stamford Bridge. You can only play in the Premier League if you have that mental toughness and resilience. The ability comes after that."

Chelsea (4-1-2-1-2): Cech; Ivanovic, Carvalho (Bruma, 67), Terry, Belletti (Ferreira, 61); Essien; Ballack, Lampard; J Cole (Sturridge, 78); Anelka, Drogba. Substitutes not used: Hilario (gk), Malouda, Deco, Kalou.

Blackburn Rovers (4-5-1): Robinson; Jacobsen (Salgado, 60), Nelsen, Givet, Olsson; Diouf, Emerton, Nzonzi, Andrews, Pedersen (Hoilett, 69); Roberts (Kalinic, 53). Substitutes not used: Brown (gk), McCarthy, Reid, Jones.

Booked: Blackburn Rovers Pedersen

Referee: A Wiley (Staffordshire).

Man of the match: Drogba.

Source: Independent

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