Regrets over Chelsea? No, I'm in charge of the richest club in the world: Ancelotti on the day he knew his Bridge reign would end... and a new life in Paris
By ROB DRAPER
Last updated at 10:03 PM on 4th February 2012
Carlo Ancelotti knew his career as Chelsea manager was over 36 seconds into his team’s match with Manchester United at Old Trafford last May. Park Ji-sung threaded a pass through Chelsea’s defence, David Luiz mistimed his tackle and Javier Hernandez pounced to open the scoring.
United went on to win 2-1, Chelsea’s title hopes evaporated and Ancelotti realised that for him the game was up.
‘It’s very difficult to recover from that,’ said Ancelotti, as he sat in his modern new office at Paris Saint-Germain’s training ground in the pretty Parisian suburb of St Germain-en-Laye on a glorious but bitterly cold winter’s day.
‘This is the destiny of the match if you concede in the first 30 seconds. This is supposed to be the point when your concentration and motivation is at the top level. If you make a mistake like this after 30 seconds, this is the destiny of the game and you cannot come back into it.’
Back to work: Ancelotti at PSG's training complex, planning to repeat the glory of his Chelsea success
Though it might feel to some that Chelsea have been struggling for a full two seasons now, it is pertinent to remember that had Ancelotti won that game at Old Trafford last May, Chelsea would have been on equal points with United with two games to play.
That, coming a year after Ancelotti had guided Chelsea to the FA Cup and Premier League double, all achieved despite the fact that throughout his second season there was an almost open acceptance that he would be sacked.
‘At that moment I didn’t know for sure if the club wanted to change or not,’ said Ancelotti wistfully of the game that sealed his fate. He knew the likelihood, though, which was confirmed two weeks later.
But he says he will settle down to watch Chelsea-Manchester United with no regrets.
Following Saturday morning’s warm-down session at the training ground after Paris Saint-Germain’s game against Evian on Saturday night, Ancelotti planned to return to the Paris apartment he has secured and, apart from a few minor complaints about the traffic, will be revelling in the job he now has.
Relaxed: Ancelotti in his office outside Paris
He has been here just over a month, won four games and PSG are top of the league. He has found a good restaurant near his apartment. ‘That was the first thing!’ said the man who once drove David Beckham on a 100-mile round trip after training,皇冠足球网址, insisting he had to try a restaurant in Parma.
Ancelotti has two of his staff from Chelsea — Nick Broad and Paul Clement — here with him. And he manages the richest team in the world, with PSG backed by the Qatari Investment Authority, the official arm of the Qatari *河蟹*, the country which will host the 2022 World Cup. Qatar’s GDP is currently $164billion, thus edging out Manchester City’s backers in Abu Dhabi by $10bn.
It feels as though the pressure here cannot be as intense as the madhouse of Stamford Bridge but in reality, though the Press scrutiny is more benign, the intent of the Qatari owners is as clear. The Crown Prince of Qatar, Sheik Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani, took time out to attend when the team trained in the Middle East state during their winter break.
Prior to Ancelotti’s arrival, they spent £70m on players, including rising Argentine star Javier Pastore, and though in the winter less high-profile names arrived, such as former Chelsea defender Alex, Maxwell from Barcelona and Thiago from AC Milan, marquee names will surely come. Maybe not Beckham, but Carlos Tevez, who is perhaps a surprising entry on Ancelotti’s wishlist.
‘It’s true we tried to sign Beckham; we tried to sign [Alexandre] Pato; we tried to sign Tevez but not Kaka. We tried to have Beckham. He is not young,网络博彩, of course, but he has personality, character. I knew him from Milan.
‘This team technically is good but we need to have more personality, more character, so for a lot of reasons. Pato because he is young and is a good striker, and Tevez because he has a lot of character.’
ANCELOTTI'S TROPHY HAUL
As a player
Roma: Serie A (1), Coppa Italia (4)
AC Milan: European Cup (2), Serie A (2), Supercoppa (1), Super Cup (2), Intercontinental Cup (2).
As a manager
AC Milan: Champions League (2), Serie A (1), Coppa Italia (1),太阳城全讯网, Supercoppa (1), UEFA Super
Cup (2), Club World Cup (1).
Chelsea: Premier League (1), FA Cup (1), Community Shield (1).
Even Ancelotti has to laugh at the latter observation but he would have no trouble accommodating the man branded the refusnik of Manchester City, though Tevez would claim that he never refused to play, only to warm up.
Ancelotti added: ‘For two years Tevez did really well at Manchester City. After that he had a problem with the manager. His behaviour could have been better because sometimes it can happen that a player has to go on the bench and be a substitute. But Manchester City lost something without him.
‘I don’t know if we’ll try again in the summer. In January there were not a lot of options around about strikers. Tevez, but not others. In June there will be more options.’
It all seems a degree more benign than London. Having just negotiated a Press conference in decent French without translators after his two-month crash course in the language, where the main topics of the day are injury issues and transfers targets, he is reminded that at Chelsea his media obligations often ended up as inquisitions regarding his views on the players’ behaviour.
Having stood by John Terry when he was last stripped of the England captaincy, Ancelotti is bemused that the Football Association have chosen to repeat that action. The Italian is providing a character reference for Terry in the court case in July when he will contest a charge of a racially aggravated public order offence.
‘I don’t understand [the FA decision],’ said Ancelotti. ‘And I think John Terry doesn’t understand it. I am sure that John Terry is not racist. This is the most important thing.
‘I think to take away the armband makes no sense, it’s unnecessary. I think John can survive through this because he has strong character. But I think it is not right.’
Serial winner: Ancelotti won the Premier League title and FA Cup in his first season at Chelsea
Other differences stand out. There does appear to be a coherent strategy at PSG, whereas at Chelsea one minute Ancelotti would be informed that the club had to blood young players and sell high earners; the next the club were spending £75m on Fernando Torres and Luiz. And at the end of it all he was sacked, to be replaced by Andre Villas-Boas.
‘It’s not an easy moment [for Chelsea] because I think the club need to change something,’ he added. ‘Because it needs to have players that, maybe not now but in the future, can substitute the big players.’
King of Europe: Ancelotti hepled AC Milan to two European Cups - the second in 2007 against Liverpool
Such as Didier Drogba, Frank Lampard and John Terry?
‘To do this in this moment is not really easy, because for change, you need to have more time. Maybe this year could be good for Chelsea, of course, [just] to reach the Champions League.
‘The second year we changed things. We lost Ricardo Carvalho, Joe Cole, Deco and Michael Ballack and we put five young players in the squad. So we also had this idea in the past.
‘You can do things step by step but eventually you arrive at the moment where you have to change. I feel that this is the moment Chelsea have decided to change.
‘It depends on the aim of the club. If it is to change and to have trust in this manager then they have to wait. It doesn’t matter if you don’t win the league this year. But you have to create a new team for the next year. But if this is the aim, to win the league, I think it is difficult for Chelsea to win the league [this year].’
It is said with his customary geniality and without bitterness. His relations with Chelsea remain good, he says. But when he speaks of trusting the manager, of patience, it is perhaps more in hope than expectation. But then that is not his problem any more.