Ancelotti reveals: 10 more years
Ancelotti reveals desire to rule the Bridge for a decade
In a mad sport where a manager seeing out the next 24 hours can be ambitious, Alex Ferguson's 24 years at Old Trafford is a miracle, according to Carlo Ancelotti, who still harbours dreams of completing 10 years at Chelsea.
No other manager will come close to breaking Ferguson's record at one club, Ancelotti believes. "It's impossible," said the Chelsea manager, who knows his trade is becoming more precarious with demanding owners.
"England is becoming very close to Italy: all the managers who went this season were doing a good job. Sam Allardyce at Blackburn and Chris Hughton at Newcastle were having good seasons."
Ferguson has created a unique microclimate at Old Trafford away from the squalls and storms elsewhere.
"He's involved in United not just as coach, but also really inside this club," said Ancelotti. "He has a lot of passion. He's a fantastic example for every coach to follow. I would like to do the same, but 24 years is too much!"
Despite recent ructions within Chelsea, including the departure of his assistant Ray Wilkins, Ancelotti voiced his desire to stay for a decade at the Bridge.
"I think it's a realistic ambition. I'm feeling good and I would like to stay here if that is possible. It depends on what the team is able to do. The first year here was very good and we need to maintain the same level this season and other seasons."
Yet he clearly does not dominate all corners of the club as Ferguson does. "I have 100pc of power with my players," countered Ancelotti. "This is my aim and I don't ask for more power in different areas." Like coaches? "Yes."
That sad reality was confirmed with the decision to dismiss Wilkins taken by Roman Abramovich.
Ancelotti shook his head at the suggestion that he had to win the Champions League to remain on the Abramovich payroll. "I don't know. I have to judge my job just on victories. The club judge on other things, not just the result. I know a lot of managers are judged just on results, but it's not the most important thing."
The Italian appeared to be making a distinction between how a coach should judge his work -- on results -- and the broader perspective that the club should take.
"If I were an owner I will not judge on results. What matters is the philosophy of the team, the club, the atmosphere, whether the manager prepares good training sessions.
"Arsene Wenger is not judged just on results. In the last years Arsenal have not been able to win (trophies), but they play, without victories, very good football. Arsenal fans are happy to watch their team play because it's good football. You have to ask Abramovich if that's the same view (at Chelsea)."
Defeat would leave Ancelotti's team nine points adrift of United.
"It's a lot, but I want to mention that I lost a championship (in Italy) from nine points up with eight games to go. Nine points is a big gap, but not decisive."
In a sport that traditionally looks no further than the next 90 minutes, let alone 24 hours or 24 years, the experienced Ancelotti urged some perspective.
"There are five teams thinking they can win the title, so there are lot of important games and it's too early to say this could be decisive."
He dismissed claims that the league was of poorer quality this season, praising the "good tactical behaviour" of United and Arsenal during their meeting at Old Trafford on Monday.
"United were stronger in midfield than Arsenal, but it was a good game. The level of the Premier League was good. The quality is the same as last season. The difference is that City and Tottenham are now involved at the top."
The most objective critique that can be made of the Premier League is that it remains hugely competitive.
Never have the promoted clubs thrown themselves so hungrily on the elite's feast.
Sadly, some of the stardust has blown south to Spain. Cristiano Ronaldo has never been replaced as a headline act.
If the Premier League quality is not great technically, it has certainly produced a great title race.
Despite the forecast for more snow, the Bridge surface will be playable, because of the undersoil heating, but there are concerns about the surrounding roads. Grit will certainly be needed in the centre of the park.
With Ferguson fielding only one centre-forward for the more challenging assignments, and Ancelotti expected to go 4-3-3, midfield is bound to be a congestion zone.
Frank Lampard starts, bringing much-needed energy and a goal threat. "He's the best player (in the country) able to score from midfield," enthused Ancelotti, "and could bring in more dynamic movement and obviously experience and character."
"That Frank comes back is very important news for us. We don't need a hero; we need a player capable of 20 goals from midfield."
And an assured marksman from 12 yards. "Lampard will take the pens," observed Ancelotti when reminded that Didier Drogba missed against Spurs.
If Chelsea benefit from the return of Lampard, United will be missing one of his old international colleagues.
"They can play with less quality without Paul Scholes because he has fantastic ability to switch the play with long balls," added Ancelotti. "They play more short without him."
Tomorrow may not be a classic, but with much at stake, players' fuses will certainly be short. Ferguson and Ancelotti will remain respectful of each other, though. (© Daily Telegraph, London)