Carlo lauds 'world class' Rooney
Carlo Ancelotti believes Manchester United would find it difficult
to retain the Premier League title without Wayne Rooney.
The Italian coach hinted United are over-reliant on the England striker and Chelsea's attacking strength in depth gives them the edge over Sir Alex Ferguson's side.
The Chelsea boss faces a Birmingham side unbeaten in 15 games at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night with United sitting on top of the table following their weekend victory over Hull.
Rooney scored all four goals in their demolition of the struggling Tigers and Ancelotti clearly knows the true value of the England star.
When asked if United could win the title if they were denied Rooney's services through injury in the months ahead, Ancelotti said: "Without Rooney it'd be difficult. He's the best striker at Manchester United, and one of the best strikers in the world.
"He's a champion, a world-class player, and not only just a finisher but a team player. I saw him play left-wing at times last year, coming back to help the team out defensively.
"He's a very decisive player for United. But we have possibilities without Didier Drogba because we can put Nicolas Anelka on, another top striker in world football.
"Drogba is an important player for us, but we've played very well without him.
This means, as I've always said, we have a very good squad. Without him we have the possibility to put other strong, fantastic players in the team.
"When we were without the suspended Didier earlier in the season in the Champions League, Nicolas did very well. Now we have had Nicolas and Daniel Sturridge doing well for us in the last month, so we have quality without Didier. We can use other players in those forward areas."
The club's talks with Anelka over a new contract continue, but speculation suggests the two parties are far from agreeing a new long-term deal.
The 11-goal Frenchman has 18 months left to run on his current agreement but Ancelotti is "100% convinced" the forward will remain at Stamford Bridge.
"I think that they are speaking with his agent and they will try to find the right solution for both the club and for him," said Ancelotti.
"I'm confident he'll sign. Anelka is a top player and this club needs to have a lot of top players. It's the same question with Joe Cole. We want to keep him and he wants to stay. There will be a resolution.
"Anelka has told me he wants to stay. He's happy with me. He's happy to work with me, and I'm very happy to work with him. That's a wedding, no? We don't want to break up."
Chelsea have two games in hand on leaders United and Ancelotti believes dropping to third place may have given them a psychological boost.
"Psychologically, it might not be a bad thing for us to be third," he said.
"We have to stay focused because we have three games in a week and we need to claim the points. But it's in our hands."
Meanwhile, injured Juliano Belletti has revealed on Twitter Chelsea have blocked his chance of a move to Flamengo.
Belletti, 33, who can play in defence and midfield, is out for a month with a knee injury. Flamengo had prepared a two-year deal, but could not afford to pay a transfer fee and Belletti said on Twitter:
"Chelsea FC said that they are not going to release me before the end of my contract, which expires in June 2010."