Thursday 5 December 2019

Ancelotti craves Double to ease Euro pain

Jason Burt

CARLO ANCELOTTI slept for barely two hours after Chelsea's crushing Champions League exit to Jose Mourinho's Inter Milan, such was the turmoil in his head, but now he has set his sights on achieving something that had eluded his nemesis: to win the Premier League and FA Cup Double.

The Chelsea manager yesterday issued a rallying call to his players and, perhaps, a public declaration to Roman Abramovich that he remains the right man for this job and can deliver the success the owner seeks.

Asked why he had mentioned the Double, Ancelotti replied: "To put new motivation in all of the club."

He also volunteered the fact that in 114 years of English football only five clubs had achieved the league and FA Cup feat. "It's a good statistic," he said.

But could he name the clubs?

"Tottenham, Arsenal, Manchester United," he reeled off before being prompted with Aston Villa and Preston North End.

"Our destiny is in our own hands," added Ancelotti (below). "If we win every game, we can do the Double. That's very important, to think about this (I wanted) to shift the objectives because we were focused on the Champions League and now we've changed our aim.

"To think you can do a Double is a good motivation for everyone. If we want to do this, we have 11 games."

So was it a target he set, or one set for him by Abramovich?

"It was my idea, it's a new motivation for me, also. I needed this because I was disappointed by what happened on Tuesday," Ancelotti said.

It means, the Italian added, that Chelsea have "11 cup finals" between now and the end of the season, starting with tomorrow's trip to Blackburn Rovers.

Abramovich was at Chelsea's training ground on Thursday and addressed the players as well as talking to Ancelotti.

Sources close to the billionaire made it clear that the main blame was being pinned on Ancelotti, while there is understood to be anger at a number of Chelsea's most senior, and highest-paid, players who are failing to live up to their reputations. Abramovich, in particular, complained about a lack of team spirit.

Both owner and manager want to see a reaction, with the Italian conceding that confidence has suffered with the end of a European campaign against Inter Milan.

He has been there before, of course. This kind of pressure, working for an owner such as Abramovich, is something he dealt with in eight seasons at AC Milan.

There is a difference, however. While Abramovich may not try to tinker with team selection, like Silvio Berlusconi did, he is certainly less patient.

AC Milan went on to win Serie A after being dumped out of the Champions League by Deportivo La Coruna in 2004 when they surrendered a 4-1 lead. The Italian needs a similar reaction from his current charges if he is to keep his job. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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