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Gerrard gives Blues' Ancelotti cautious welcome

CHELSEA could pose an even bigger threat next season having made "a fantastic signing" by naming Carlo Ancelotti as its new manager, Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard said yesterday.

Gerrard, speaking before England departed for Saturday's Group 6 World Cup qualifier in Kazakhstan, said he thought the 49-year-old Italian was one of the best coaches in the world and he was sure he would adapt to the challenges posed by the English Premier League.

"I think it's a good appointment for Chelsea, I'm not so sure it's a good one for Liverpool though, we will have to wait and see," Gerrard said half-jokingly.

"He is a fantastic manager.

"We played two Champions League finals against him when he was at AC Milan, won one on a fantastic night in Istanbul, but the second time around they beat us and he was spot on tactically in the second game."

Asked how he compared with Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez, who guided the Reds to second place this season, finishing ahead of Chelsea, Gerrard replied: "They are both fantastic managers and it will make the Premiership even more exciting. "These managers love going head to head against each other, to test each other, so I am sure Rafa and Ancelotti are looking forward to testing themselves again."

Gerrard, who is expected to play against Kazakhstan and in next Wednesday's home qualifier against Andorra, said it was vital the group leader won both games to make it seven wins out of seven qualifiers.

Six more points would mean England would need just three from its last three qualifiers to make sure of its place in next year's World Cup finals in South Africa.

"We want the job done as soon as possible, with all due respect to Kazakhstan and Andorra, these are ties we should win so we need to approach them with the right attitude.

"The majority of the time when England play these type of teams we are expected to win very comfortably but these teams can be very organized and difficult to beat."

He also hoped Wayne Rooney would bounce back from Manchester United's defeat to Barcelona in last week's Champions League final.

England coach Fabio Capello appears to have found the right position for him playing in a free role up front and Gerrard added: "I think if you give a player like Wayne Rooney freedom he is going to cause the opposition many problems, he is such a talent. Wayne has come off the back of a Champions League defeat. I am sure he is still hurting and will take it out on the next opposition."


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