Ancelotti denies Milan rift
© AFP

AC Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti denied there was any rift between him and the club ahead of Serie A match against in-form Cagliari. Milan's hopes of winning their first Serie A title since 2004 disappeared last weekend as they lost 2-1 to leaders, and bitter city rivals, Inter Milan to fall 11 points off the champions' pace.

Then, in midweek, they let slip a 1-0 lead away to Werder Bremen in the UEFA Cup as a late equaliser from Diego gave the Germans hope for the second leg next week. That result caused Milan president and Italy Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to lament the "horror" of yet another winning position slipping away in the dying moments of a match. It led to leading sports daily newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport speculating that Berlusconi had lined up former player Leonardo to replace Ancelotti at the end of the season.

"Every year there comes a time during the season when people start talking about my possible departure," said Ancelotti. "Finally, that time has arrived this year. And once again this year the same thing will happen that has happened in the past. I have every intention of staying and beating Nereo Rocco's record."

Rocco was the legendary Milan coach from the 1960s and 1970s who led the team to the European Cup, Cup Winners' Cup, Serie A and Coppa Italia twice each. He guided Milan to the European Cup in 1963, the first Italian club to win the competition. He spent a total of eight seasons at the helm, while Ancelotti is in his eighth and is a scudetto crown and a Coppa Italia short of Rocco's record. Even so, he insists that all is well inside the San Siro corridors.

"I have a good relationship with the club," he said. "I feel a lot of affection around me. For sure, I've made some mistakes and it's possible I'll make some more."

Milan face a stern test today against a team that over the last two months has won at Juventus and drew against Inter in the San Siro. Milan will once again be deprived of injured playmaker Kaka and Ukraine forward Andrei Shevchenko.

"They're an excellent team who've done very well up until now, especially away from home where they beat Juve and drew with Inter," said Ancelotti. "The match will be tricky, we need to get back to winning ways in the league and we're worried about Cagliari's strength."