Ancelotti says league hinges on 'nine finals'
An ability to embrace pressure marks out the great managers and Carlo Ancelotti insisted yesterday that he revels in the business end of the season.
Indeed, the Chelsea manager heaped more pressure on himself by declaring that his team had "nine finals" to play in the Premier League. And that is before they even think about the Champions League.
Ancelotti certainly believes Chelsea can overhaul Manchester United and retain their title.
"To have a chance, we have to win all the games in the Premier League. That's our aim -- to win all nine games," he said.
"United cannot win nine, because they have to play against us but, if they win seven or eight, they'll win the title and we won't have a chance. We just have to be focused on the next match (Stoke City away today) because that's the first of nine -- if you want to say -- nine finals."
If that is adding to the pressure, then Ancelotti is comfortable about doing so, and the ease of yesterday's press conference confirmed the sense that he is someone who is often better when there is little margin for error.
"I need to have pressure to maintain focus, to stay concentrated on my job," he said. "I need that pressure on my shoulders. But this doesn't mean I can't manage this. I need to have that, and I like having it.
"I'd be less excited if I felt my team wasn't in good form, with good motivation, but they are motivated and confident."
Ancelotti believes his team have not only been stabilised but relaunched with the arrival of Fernando Torres and, in particular, David Luiz in the January transfer window -- "they came here at the right moment" -- giving the rest of the players belief and offering the manager options to rotate. (© Daily Telegraph, London)