Chelsea are riding high at the top of the Premier League with six wins out of six and while Carlo Ancelotti wants to end his career at Stamford Bridge – "in 2015" – the manager is only too aware that disaster may just be around the corner.
The Italian spoke revealingly yesterday about his experiences with the flip side of football, about how he was nearly sacked at his first job at Reggiana and his studies to be an electrician in case management went sour.
Ancelotti has tasted nothing but victory since taking charge at Stamford Bridge in the summer, and takes his side to Wigan Athletic today hoping to extend the club's run of consecutive league victories to 12.
He recognises, however, that things could have turned out differently, when he was only one game away from the sack in 1995. His Reggiana side started the season with three defeats and four draws, and were bottom of the table when they faced Venezia.
"After seven matches we were bottom," he said. "And there was a match against Venezia and that was going to be the last game if we'd lost. But we won 3-0 and we were winning after 20 minutes by that scoreline.
"That first period wasn't good. But it was an important experience because, after that season, we won the championship with Reggiana in the Second Division. When you get through the difficulties, you take a lot of strength from that."
Outlining his alternative career plans, he continued: "I started a course to be an electrician. But I have difficulties putting lightbulbs in at my house. I studied for five years. I did an examination and I have a licence.
"I finished the last exam in 1986. I was the captain of Roma and did it at night school. But I made a mistake. I don't like being an electrician, believe me. Perhaps I would have been a farmer."
Ancelotti does not think he was destined to be a great manager. He said: "I started to coach in 1995 and, after two years of this job, I thought I would end in 2000. When I got to 2000, I thought I'd close my career in 2005. In 2005, after the final against Liverpool, I thought it was better to continue. Now, my stop is 2015. At Chelsea, I hope."
The experience of being close to disaster means Ancelotti has none of that brash cockiness that characterised his predecessor Jose Mourinho. Instead the man who led Milan to two Champions League titles is preparing for when things go wrong for Chelsea. "I know very well that we'll arrive at difficult moments," he said.
When that first defeat finally comes, Ancelotti is likely to head straight for the cinema to escape. "After we're beaten, I don't like to watch television, I don't like to read the newspapers. Only this – I like to go to the cinema." He revealed that after his last loss – Milan's 3-2 home defeat to Roma – he watched the 1950s epic "Quo Vadis", about the reign of Emperor Nero.Reuse content