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Ancelotti still has work to do after Chelsea's close shave

sports Updated: Aug 16, 2009 20:07 IST

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Carlo Ancelotti admits his new-look Chelsea side remain a work in progress after they spluttered to a 2-1 victory over Hull City on the Premier League's opening day.

Ancelotti marked his first league game since taking charge with three points thanks to a stoppage time winner from Didier Drogba after the Ivorian had earlier cancelled out Stephen Hunt's 27th minute opening goal at Stamford Bridge.

But the Italian acknowledged Chelsea's performance was less than convincing, with the reshaped midfield diamond failing to deliver the creative sparkle needed to break down Hull's defences.

Although Ancelotti was quick to excuse his players their teething troubles against Hull, he warned things must quickly improve if they are to avoid the possibility of losing early ground in the title race.

Ancelotti said: "I don't know how long it will take for the players to get used to the system. I don't know the precise time, hopefully soon.

"But we like to think we will still have to improve because there is no such thing as the perfect season.

"For sure we have to improve because we didn't play well at times in this match. We made some mistakes but this is normal. But after one month we have to improve our play."

Chelsea's play at times looked sluggish but Ancelotti refused to blame the demands of the midweek international programme for the performance.

Some of his key players - notably Frank Lampard - looked below their best, but the manager claimed his side's problems were caused by Hull's efforts in closing down and not by the round of national call-ups three days before the season kicked off.

Lampard, along with skipper John Terry, had played the full 90 minutes of England's 2-2 draw with Holland, while left-back Ashley Cole was replaced just six minutes from time.

And Ancelotti said: "I didn't speak with Fabio Capello about the players before the England game. I want to help his work, give him players in good condition.

"It's not a problem because Ashley, John and Frank have come back without injuries. A lot of players have played for their countries. The most important factor against Hull was the lack of space.

"Frank was playing in a difficult position because when the opposition plays a solid defensive line it's more difficult for him to play."

Drogba's contribution proved the difference between the two teams and prevented Hull repeating their success of last February when they claimed a point a Stamford Bridge.

The Ivory Coast striker has recently signed a new three-year contract and Ancelotti is under no illusions that Drogba's form will have a major influence on Chelsea's chances of success this season.

"We played well at times and Didier Drogba showed why he is such an important player for us," Ancelotti said.

"He wasn't always fit last season but he has signed a new contract and looked very good."

Hull manager Phil Brown believes his side's performance confirmed his belief that they should not be regarded as relegation favourites.

He remains convinced they can repeat last season's success of staying up, especially if he can complete the signing of a new striker this week.

Brown said: "Of course we're disappointed but we played better than we did last season when we got a point.

"We had a game plan and that worked. We were organised and we worked hard to neutralise their quality.

"We know we need more goals and we hope the arrival of a new striker will solve that problem for us. Hopefully we will bring someone in quickly."