Ancelotti admits side is scarred by failures

Chelsea players hindered by doubts after three seasons without Premier League title

It is rare for a manager, at a crucial stage of the season, to admit his team have weaknesses. But Carlo Ancelotti yesterday spoke of how his ageing squad of players carry the scars of the last three seasons, years in which they have come close to winning both the Champions League and the Premier League but have ended with neither.

Asked if his players had doubts about their ability to see off Manchester United and Arsenal in the closest title race for years, Ancelotti said: "Maybe in their minds, there could be this thought having come so close in the Premier League and the Champions League. Chelsea haven't won the title for a long time, so we need to win this. We have been at the top of the table for a long time, and we want to get back there and stay there to win this title.

"I think this is the time for Chelsea to win. The players believe because they have stayed eight months at the top of the table... for this reason, they believe it. Until now, I think we have deserved to win it."

Ancelotti politely declined yesterday when he was invited to give an Italian translation for "squeaky bum time", the phrase slightly mistakenly attributed to Sir Alex Ferguson to describe the decisive weeks of the football season. The Chelsea manager admitted he shares Ferguson's sense of nervous anticipation, but insisted its equivalent in Italian is a little too graphic.

Ancelotti certainly gave no impression that the pressure might be getting to him, as it clearly has to his fellow countryman Roberto Mancini at Manchester City. He has been criticised for being too laid back in the wake of Chelsea's Champions League elimination by Internazionale, but the plus side of his affable temperament is that he is less likely to panic despite a run of injuries that now includes Ricardo Carvalho, who is set to be out for a month with a damaged ankle.

In his first season at Chelsea after eight years with Milan, the Italian is contesting the title race against a pair of experienced and successful managers in Ferguson and Arsenal's Arsène Wenger. It is not a new feeling for Ancelotti. "Every season for me, at the end of the campaign, was very important," he said. "We were either involved in Serie A or the semi-finals and final of the Champions League. To stay focused for me is not a problem with pressure. Doubts? No. I am an optimist and I would like to win it. From the start of the season until the end, I want to do my best. So our destiny is in our own hands."

He did concede, however, that last week's defeat by Internazionale had hit the players' morale but claimed the convincing victory at Portsmouth on Wednesday had changed the mood dramatically. He also added that not playing the two legs of a Champions League quarter-final, which both United and Arsenal must do, will give his men a physical edge.

"Mentally, it wasn't good for us to go out of the Champions League," he said. "But after the victory against Portsmouth this moment is finished. We are disappointed to be out of the cup, but it could be an advantage. The quarter-finals will take out a lot of energy, not only physically but mentally. We can take advantage of that if we prepare well our own games, and if we play with a good high tempo. After the game against Portsmouth there was a different atmosphere: more excited, more confident."

Ancelotti challenged his players to put on a show today against Aston Villa at Stamford Bridge, to set up next weekend's showdown with United at Old Trafford.

"I hope we will do a fantastic game: not only for the victory, but we want to play well and show we're out of our bad moment and can look forward with optimism to the Manchester United game," Ancelotti said.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
peopleBenjamin Netanyahu trolled by group promoting two-state solution
Arts and Entertainment
Kylie performs during her Kiss Me Once tour
musicReview: 26 years on from her first single, the pop princess tries just a bit too hard at London's O2
Life and Style
fashionEveryone, apparently
Voices
The erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey has already been blamed for a rise in the number of callouts to the fire brigade for people trapped in handcuffs
voicesJustine Elyot: Since Fifty Shades there's no need to be secretive about it — everyone's at it
Arts and Entertainment
A new Banksy entitled 'Art Buff' has appeared in Folkestone, Kent
art
Life and Style
Playing to win: for Tanith Carey, pictured with Lily, right, and Clio, even simple games had to have an educational purpose
lifeTanith Carey explains what made her take her foot off the gas
Arts and Entertainment
The White Sails Hospital and Spa is to be built in the new Tunisia Economic City.
architectureRussian billionaire designs boat-shaped hospital for new Dubai-style Tunisia Economic City
Sport
Husain Abdullah returns an interception off Tom Brady for a touchdown
nflLeague has rules against 'sliding to ground on knees'
Arts and Entertainment
Critics say Kipling showed loathing for India's primitive villagers in The Jungle Book
filmChristopher Walken, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johanssen Idris Elba, Andy Serkis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett and Christian Bale
Life and Style
tech
Extras
indybest
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style