Ancelotti mindful of Juve heartbreak
Carlo Ancelotti is all too aware of the need for Chelsea to be ruthless if they are to end the season as Premier League champions.
The Italian chose to leave Serie A for the first time in his career this summer to take charge at Stamford Bridge. After last week's 3-0 thumping of Arsenal, his side sit five points clear at the top of the table having registered wins over all of Chelsea's main rivals.
The Italian yesterday cited the end of the 1999/2000 Serie A season, when he was in charge at Juventus, as evidence of just how much his current side need to maintain their focus and close the season out. Having established a nine-point lead at the top of Serie A, Ancelotti's Juventus squandered it and failed to win their last eight matches, handing Sven-Goran Eriksson's Lazio the title.
He now hopes to avoid the same fate with Chelsea, who still have away fixtures at Manchester United, Liverpool, Tottenham and Manchester City to come this season. "In 2000 with Juventus we had nine points but didn't win any of the last eight games and lost the last game, losing the title," he recalled. "It was difficult, and I had a long holiday after that!
"When you play for three points, it's not so difficult to catch up and recover. Lazio won the title that year, under Eriksson. I'm the one who helped Eriksson to become England manager. But I didn't receive money for this!"
"I'd like to be nine points ahead with eight games to play. It's difficult to repeat that situation. But this means the teams who are behind us at the moment still have a possibility to return to the top. Now we must focus on the present. "
Chelsea travel to Eastlands today to take on Mark Hughes' Manchester City. After a summer spending spree that brought the likes of Gareth Barry, Carlos Tevez and Joleon Lescott to the club, many had predicted City would claim a top four place.
A run of seven straight draws has seen them slip to seventh and questions have been raised about Hughes' future at the club. Ancelotti says the Welshman must be given time, however. "The problem at this moment is because they took a lot of players in," he said. "I had the same problem in the past. When a lot of players arrive at the start of the season, it's difficult immediately to find the right way. You have to have time."
Hughes also embarked on a public courting of Chelsea captain John Terry in the summer, only for the defender to commit his future to Chelsea. Ancelotti is glad the 28-year-old opted to stay at Stamford Bridge. "John Terry is not only important for his technical quality, but for his behaviour and his personality," Ancelotti added.