We asked yesterday whether there was a bottler or two in the Chelsea camp when it came to taking penalties and the answer appears in today’s Daily Mail. Nicolas Anelka may well have stepped up to take a spot-kick for the Blues, but he was actually on the original list of five takers, only for the Frenchman to decline the polite invitation. Despite being a striker and previous penalty-taker for Bolton and Manchester City.
Anelka said: “I did not think for a moment I was going to come on.
“I had remained sitting on the bench and suddenly they asked me to play — not even a minute after sending me to warm up.
“I do not know if that has happened before in a Champions League Final, in a match of such intensity, that a player is sent onto the pitch without having warmed up.
“When you come on you should at least be ready to make some runs.”
The penalty miss capped a disappointing 2008 for Anelka, who has struggled to make an impact since his £15million arrival in January. He has also cast doubt over his Stamford Bridge future by questioning Avram Grant’s decision to cast him as a wide player. Perhaps he’ll get the chance to play more central when Didier Drogba buggers off.
He said: “Since I arrived at Chelsea I have never been played in my position. Never as a second striker, always on the left and right. I have said nothing until now.
“When I came here they told me I would play in a 4-4-2. I did not join to play on the right or left. I no longer have any need to prove what I am worth playing in the middle.
“I could have played up front with Didier.
He wanted that as well but our partnership has never even been tried in training.
“We must have played together for half an hour.”