Ancelotti: forget about fear and play from the heart

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The Independent Online

Carlo Ancelotti, the Chelsea manager, cut to the chase yesterday, predicting tomorrow's Premier League title showdown with Manchester United at Old Trafford will be won not by formations and tactics, but by desire and character.

Ancelotti has been schooled in the fine old Italian tradition with its focus on detailed systems and thorough organisation, but faced with a game that will go a long way to deciding this most unpredictable of seasons, he tore up the tactics manual and implored his defending champions to play from the heart.

"I want to say one thing," Ancelotti announced at yesterday's press conference at the training ground in Cobham. "The line-up will not be what decides this game. This game will be decided through the courage of the players, the personality, the character. We don't need to be worried, afraid about this. We have to play at our best. With courage and personality; 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 is not important."

"The players are motivated themselves. They don't have a problem with motivation. The problem is the fear. Being afraid, to lose energy by being too afraid," he said.

Ancelotti accepted that United remain favourites to win the league, but claimed Chelsea have the mental edge going into tomorrow's game, as United have to raise their game again.

"Mentally, we can have an advantage. Man United hoped they wouldn't have to play this kind of game against us. If they'd had more of an advantage, it could have been an easy game against us – not easy, but a different game. Now the title... they have to fight again for the title. Mentally, for this reason, we can have an advantage," Ancelotti said.

He added he was happy that Howard Webb would be officiating, describing the man who refereed the World Cup final last year as "fantastic".

Ancelotti's major selection dilemma concerns whether to start with Didier Drogba or Fernando Torres at the centre of a three-man strike force. Ancelotti predicted all his strikers would be involved . "I want my players to understand that it's not so important to start the game, but that they will be involved, even for 20 minutes. We've won games from players who have come on from the bench," he said.

It was pointed out to Ancelotti yesterday that no team has won at Old Trafford since Chelsea did it, 30 games ago. "It's time to win," the Italian answered with a smile.

       P        W       D        L        F        A        Pts       

Man Utd       35       21       10       4       71       33       73

Chelsea       35       21       7       7       66       28       70

Arsenal       35       19       10       6       68       36       67

Man City       34       18       8       8       53       31       62

Liverpool       35       16       7       12       54       39       55

Tottenham       34       14       13       7       50       43       55

Everton       35       11       15       9       48       43       48

Bolton       35       12       10       13       48       48       46

Fulham       35       10       15       10       43       36       45

Stoke       35       12       7       16       43       43       43

* Top two's remaining fixtures

* Manchester United

Chelsea (h)       Tomorrow

Blackburn (a)       Saturday 14 May

Blackpool (h)       Sunday 22 May

* Chelsea

Man United (a)       Tomorrow

Newcastle (h)       Sunday 15 May

Everton (a)       Sunday 22 May