Ancelotti: We don't have regrets
Carlo Ancelotti has no regrets about Chelsea's season and has urged his players not to look back in anger on their worst campaign since Roman Abramovich bought the club.
Manchester United's draw at Blackburn Rovers today condemned the Blues to a trophy-less season for only the third time in the eight-year Abramovich era. On the two previous occasions, the manager was sacked and Ancelotti appears resigned to following suit this summer.
The Italian admitted he and his players could have achieved more than they managed throughout the season, but claimed expecting eternal success was unrealistic.
"You know that it will be impossible to win every year because, if you win every year, other teams never win," Ancelotti said. "I think we could do better this season, but I think we don't have regrets about this season and the players don't have to regret."
Ancelotti declared he knew precisely the reasons for Chelsea's failure to win a trophy, but was reluctant to share them until the end of the season. "I know exactly what happened this year, here this season, exactly, 100 per cent," he said. "I will tell you after the end."
On the face of it, injuries to key players was the main cause of Chelsea surrendering the title, as their lack of squad depth was exposed following the release of several senior stars. There has also been criticism of those who failed to step up to the mark when the likes of John Terry, Frank Lampard, Michael Essien and Didier Drogba were sidelined.
"Every player has his character and every team has its spine," said Ancelotti. "Chelsea has this spine and it's difficult to change this because there are players with a strong, strong personality, with fantastic experience."
Yet, the Italian was adamant some of his younger players would mature to form a new spine. "For example, [Branislav] Ivanovic is a fantastic team-worker, Ramires is a fantastic team-worker. Chelsea has the possibility to keep a high standard with this kind of player. Maybe, with experience, they can reach the same position, the same level as Terry, as Lampard and as Drogba."
That trio are now all in their thirties, with their best days arguably behind them. But Ancelotti proved the master of prolonging the careers of the likes of Paolo Maldini, Clarence Seedorf and Alessandro Nesta while at AC Milan.
"Terry and Lampard represent the club, the shirt. It's difficult to explain, but when one player feels the shirt on his body, it's better. You will have more motivation. So to have players who feel this is better for the club."
Terry's desire to manage
This week saw Terry reiterate his desire to manage Chelsea one day and Ancelotti warned his captain the transition from player to coach would "not be easy".
"The experience that I had as a player was fantastic, but doesn't help you a lot to manage a team," Ancelotti said. "You're experience as a player helps you in the relationship with the players, but to prepare the training sessions, to give the motivation to the players, you need to have a different experience. The experience as a player will be important but, after that, you have to study, you have to learn a lot of things."
Ancelotti admitted he went into coaching after retiring because it was the next best thing to playing. "It's one of the reasons that you can stay in this work," he said. "Because when you finish playing, what are you going to do? If you're going to be an owner, you need to have a lot of money. Or you can work for the television, or sometimes you can write in the newspaper."
Ancelotti is unlikely to be out of work for long if Chelsea do dispense with his services at the end of the season. And, despite the travails of the current campaign, should the first manager in the club's history to win the double leave Stamford Bridge, he will do so with fond memories.
"A fantastic club, fantastic place to work, fantastic atmosphere," he said. "But this is a thought I don't want to tell because it will seem that I have finished here."