Carlo Ancelotti yesterday contemplated the long list of managers who have been sacked in the recent past by ruthless owner Roman Abramovich, and declared: “I am here to change the history of this club.”
Ancelotti has come under intense pressure in the space of a week, after Chelsea lost 1-0 to Internazionale and drew 1-1 with Blackburn. Out of the Champions League and down to third in the table, Chelsea have suddenly taken on the demeanour of a team that is past its sell-by date, unable to impose themselves on their opponents. They have recorded just five wins from their last 11 games in all competitions, and their aura as a heavyweight team has evaporated.
Ever since Roman Abramovich bought the club in 2003, managers such as Claudio Ranieri and Avram Grant, whose Portsmouth side Chelsea play tonight, have been sacked for failing to win trophies. Ancelotti insisted yesterday his job is not in question.
Ancelotti said: “I am here to change the history of this club. I am an optimistic man. I have a very good relationship with the club and with Roman. My position is not in discussion. The owner now is thinking what I think: to win the Premier League and to win the FA Cup.”
Ancelotti accepted the club's current run of form is unacceptable. “It's not enough. We know this,” he said. “We had possibilities to win more and we didn't, so for this we are disappointed. We need to put more intensity into our jobs “It's the most difficult moment of the season, this is true. It's more difficult now and we shouldn't be afraid to admit that.
“We have nine or 10 games until the end of the season — eight in the Premier League and maybe two in the FA Cup — and that's not a lot of time. Maybe 50 days of training. Our aim is to stay focused for these 10 games. I don't like to count them down. 10 games, we have to win 10 games. They (the team) have the courage. They have personality. We have to have energy, strength, confidence to win every game.”
Ancelotti came in for criticism yesterday from Blackburn manager Sam Allardyce, bristling at the Italian's suggestions his side play long ball football. Allardyce said: “Ancelotti is a big man in the world of football, but he has come down in my estimation. We have another top coach who is unable and unwilling to give us the credit we deserved, which is a bit of a shame.”
Portsmouth manager Grant revealed the club's players and coaching staff are paying the wages of four members of the training ground staff. “Football is not just football there are people who are very special who we live with every day and I am very happy they have done this — it has meant a lot to me. The moment the club drops the human side it is the first step down to finish as a club,” Grant said.