Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti yesterday claimed beating Manchester United in the Champions League quarter-final would not constitute revenge for the club following their defeat on penalties in the all-English final of 2008.
United claimed the spoils three years ago, winning on penalties following a 1-1 draw. That rain-soaked night in the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow has haunted Chelsea since, and according to Ancelotti, only going to the final and winning the trophy will be enough to exorcise those demons. Avram Grant was Chelsea manager when Sir Alex Ferguson claimed his second Champions League crown but Ancelotti knows what it means to lose a final, having been at the helm for Milan's defeat to Liverpool in 2005.
The Italian, who also won the trophy twice as manager of Milan, said: "In my opinion, I don't have to have revenge for United. I was not there. For my players, I don't think it's a good motivation for revenge. It should be fantastic motivation to look forward in the future. We have four games to reach the final in London. If Chelsea reached the final there, we'd have a good revenge for 2008 – not against United."
Chelsea have won their last three Premier League encounters with Manchester United, including a 2-1 victory at Stamford Bridge earlier this month, but Ancelotti does not believe that will give his side any real advantage. "I think we have to consider the past. Obviously the players can remember they lost against United, but we can remind ourselves that we won last year and this season against them. These will be different games," he said.
Ancelotti conceded that United have been more consistent than Chelsea this season. "United have showed fantastic consistency this season, better than us. But over 180 minutes who plays better will win," he said.
The Champions League is the one trophy that has eluded Chelsea and their owner Roman Abramovich in recent years, but Ancelotti denied suggestions that the desire to win it has reached obsessive levels. It is estimated that victory at Wembley in May would be worth up to £100m to the winner, but it might be even greater for Chelsea who would use their first European Cup to increase their global fan base. Ancelotti said: "We have to play a quarter-final and then we'll see if we deserve to be in the semi-final. Last year it was a really bad moment, losing to Inter. Now it's not an obsession to win it, it's a dream."
Ancelotti is to recall £50m striker Fernando Torres for tomorrow's game with Manchester City, along with Michael Essien and Florent Malouda, which sees the Italian in opposition to his old friend Roberto Mancini.