Ancelotti draws on the memory of his cup final with Capello
Saturday 15 May 2010
"You ain't got no history," is the chant directed at visiting Chelsea fans at Anfield, Old Trafford and other grounds, and it is one that hits home. Roman Abramovich's money has bought many trophies to the club in the past six seasons, including three Premier League titles, two FA Cups and two Carling Cups, but the 100 years that preceded 2005 were generally lean ones.
For Carlo Ancelotti, the Chelsea manager, today's FA Cup final provides the opportunity to create history by winning the Double, a milestone that has been achieved in English football only 10 times since 1872.
"This is a very good motivation, to improve the history of this club," Ancelotti said. "It is a very good motivation. All the other teams have to have respect of our history."
Winning the Double would mark this Chelsea side out as an exceptional side, a claim that few would contest. Their 8-0 demolition of Wigan to win the Premier League six days ago is certain to be remembered for many years to come, an emphatic demonstration of their ability to blow opposing teams out of the water. They also won all six games against Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United this season to stamp their authority on their closest rivals.
But it is not enough, and Ancelotti knows it. The Double is one thing, but Ancelotti understands that his priority next season is to address Chelsea's failure to win the Champions League. Ancelotti said: "At the beginning of the season it was very important to win either the Champions League or the Premier League. We won the Premier League and next season we can stay more in focus in the Champions League."
Ancelotti's personal history is one of success in the Coppa Italia. He won it four times as a player with Milan and once as a manager, leading the same club to victory over Fabio Capello's Roma in 2003. That victory remains the sweetest as it settled a personal score for Ancelotti that dated back to May 1992 and the day he retired as a player, when Capello was Milan coach and chose not to pick him.
Ancelotti remembered: "Capello was coach in my last game, against Verona. I came off bench and scored two goals. And I never scored two goals in my career, in my last game. In my career I won four Italian cups as a player with Roma, and as a coach in 2003. That was my favourite cup final. It was against Roma. And the trainer of Roma was Capello. There were two games, home and away. We won the first game away at Roma 4-1, and the second game was 2-2. Has Capello forgiven me? Yes."
Ancelotti was snubbed by Capello 18 years ago, but the Chelsea manager is likely to do the same today to Joe Cole, who could be playing his last game for the club as he is out of contract at the end of the month.
Cole received a surprise call-up to Capello's 30-man provisional England squad this week, and is delighted that someone is showing some faith in him.
"I will always be there ready to represent my country. I just want to be there and do all I can to help England win the World Cup," Cole said. "I don't want to blow my own trumpet but I think I've always produced when I've played. I like the tempo, style of international football. I'm happy to be there. I'm looking forward to seeing the boys again to see if they still remember me.
"You can't get me off the training pitch at the moment," Cole added. "I'm fit and fresh. We did a fitness test on Wednesday and I was the fittest player in the squad so that shows I'm ready to go. I'm busting to get out there."
Ancelotti also led the tributes to his opposite manager Avram Grant, for the way he has led Portsmouth despite their financial meltdown.
The Italian said: "The job of Avram Grant this year was more difficult than my job. This is sure because he has a lot of problems because when a player doesn't receive money it's more difficult to train and stay focused on the games. And for this I think the behaviour of Avram Grant during the season was fantastic. To get them to the final is a fantastic result."
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