My job is safe even if United knock Blues out -- Ancelotti
Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti made the bold claim last night that his job would still be safe even if his team were eliminated from the Champions League by Manchester United in their quarter-final second leg at Old Trafford tonight.
It was a brave statement from the Italian, with Chelsea trailing 1-0 from the first leg and the prospect of a season without any trophies looming should his team fail tonight.
"My future is already decided. I don't have a problem about this game," claimed Ancelotti -- because he has one more year of his contract to run after this season.
Although the consensus is that Ancelotti will not survive as manager at Chelsea beyond the summer unless he delivers the Champions League, the man himself was unperturbed by the continuing uncertainty around his position. "It's not important that I have to speak with Roman," he said, in reply to a question about whether he had been given assurances by the club's owner. "When I have a contract, everything is okay with him."
"A lot of times, I played this kind of game with this pressure. But it's not pressure. It's excitement. To be involved in this game is fantastic for my job, for my career. So I'm not afraid. I'm not worried about this. I'm happy to have a chance to be involved in this game, to use my ability and my skill to give to the players the skills to play at their best."
One of the key decisions facing the Chelsea manager is whether he selects his £50m striker Fernando Torres, yet to score in 10 appearances for the club.
All Ancelotti would confirm yesterday was that Torres would play some part in the match but whether he starts or not, and in which combination of attacking players, the manager was not willing to discuss.
Torres trained with the rest of the Chelsea squad at Old Trafford last night and it is anticipated he will start. "I'm not interested in a goal for Fernando. I'm interested in Chelsea winning this game," said Ancelotti. "If he scores it's good for him and for Chelsea, but it's just important to win here."
Later, Ancelotti tried in vain to deflect attention from Torres' failure to score a goal for his new club, but the issue has become sufficiently uncomfortable for the club that a Chelsea official appealed to reporters to change the subject at the press conference last night.
There are other major selection decisions for Ancelotti. He has centre-back Alex fit again and the Brazilian could go back into the side alongside John Terry in defence, allowing Branislav Ivanovic to play at right-back. There is also the possibility that Yossi Benayoun could come into the starting line-up.
United manager Alex Ferguson has virtually a full complement to select from -- with the possible exception of right-back Rafael da Silva, who will undergo a fitness test this morning. Ferguson is expected to start with the same combination of Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez in attack that played at Stamford Bridge. (© Independent News Service)