Ancelotti: I want to stay for a decade
Carlo Ancelotti has declared his intention to remain at Chelsea for the next 10 years.
Although there was an element of tongue-in-cheek about how easy his first season at Stamford Bridge had been, it seems the Italian has had a ball. After overcoming the not inconsiderable setback of the UEFA Champions League exit to Jose Mourinho's Inter Milan, Chelsea scorched to the Premier League title, cushioned by a goal deluge and then survived the concession of a second-half penalty in the FA Cup final at Wembley to beat Portsmouth and record the first domestic double in their history.
Little wonder Ancelotti was able to wear a satisfied smile as he assessed the progress that has been made. It should not be forgotten that during the eight years he spent at former club AC Milan, Chelsea went through a staggering six managers, with only Mourinho laying down any kind of marker.
Ancelotti does not feel such a scenario is healthy - and he certainly has no intention of vacating the Stamford Bridge hotseat any time soon. "If every season is like this one I would like to stay here for maybe 10 years," he said. "I am ready to sign a new contract. It is better to have stability for the club and also for the manager. It is not easy to change every year."
A meeting will be held between Ancelotti, football director Frank Arnesen and the Chelsea hierarchy, presumably including Abramovich, to determine plans for next season. Already it appears there will be no substantial changes. And while Ancelotti has no wish to fall-out with Mourinho, the Italian squashed flat any suggestion that he might be willing to sell Frank Lampard to Inter Milan.
"I have a very good relationship with Mourinho. Don't break it," he pleaded. "But this story is a joke. Lampard will stay here.
"When I started last season there was a problem with John Terry and Manchester City. Every time I said no, John Terry will stay here because he is important. I didn't want to do the same with Frank Lampard. He will stay here."
Portugal duo Deco and Ricardo Carvalho seem less likely to survive, whilst the issue of a new contract for Joe Cole remains a vexed question. There will be new arrivals, although perhaps the most notable addition will come from the treatment room, where Michael Essien, such a driving force in midfield, has spent most of his season.
"I don't know what areas I need to strengthen," he said. "We have a lot of players injured who will be ready for next season, including Jose Bosingwa and Michael Essien. We don't need a lot of changes but maybe one or two players could arrive."
It seemed a bit harsh on Ancelotti that the champagne corks had not stopped popping in the Chelsea dressing room before thoughts turned to the one that got away. Whether the hunger of Abramovich for his team to win the Champions League is being overstated is difficult to assess.
After all, the mega-rich Russian has never spoken of Europe being a Holy Grail himself and his jubilation as Chelsea collected their second major honour of the campaign was a throw-back to his first couple of seasons in charge at Stamford Bridge, when everything was new. Yet a tilt at Europe is now expected of Chelsea next season, a task Ancelotti does not believe is beyond his team, even in its present form.
Inter Milan - and Jose Mourinho - might have got the better of Chelsea this term, but don't try telling the Italian they are too old. "These players are not old," he countered. When you have a lot of players under 30 they are not old. They are in the middle of their careers.
"Maybe we can change some things for next season but we don't need to change a lot of players because of their age. I am sure about this."