Contrary to the impression John Terry appears to have been given at his 'showdown' talks with Roman Abramovich, Chelsea will not be investing in Franck Ribery, David Villa, or anyone else for that matter prior to the closure of the transfer window.
That was the claim - or admission - by Carlo Ancelotti yesterday. The Chelsea manager declared, "I don't want to take any more new players because the Chelsea squad is very competitive."
His pursuit of Andrea Pirlo would suggest otherwise, and his captain does not appear to agree either. After the FA Cup final Terry talked of buying players like Ribery and Villa, and his flirtation with Manchester City is understood to have been prompted as much by concern that Chelsea's ambition does not match City's as the latter's head-turning wage offer. In the event Chelsea have signed only Yuri Zhirkov, Ross Turnbull and Daniel Sturridge this summer, the latter two on free transfers.
Ancelotti added that he was not selling either, which was a reference to Ricardo Carvalho and Deco, both of whom have interested former manager Jose Mourinho at Internazionale. "We never thought of selling them, they are important," said Ancelotti. "They will stay at Chelsea this season. We had no offer for them from Internazionale."
Ancelotti said an unchanged squad means a harmonious one as they try to win the Premier League for the first time since 2006, but it is also ageing, with only two first-team players, Jose Bosingwa and Nicolas Anelka, to have signed since Mourinho left two years ago.
The Portuguese got off to a flying start in 2004, beating United 1-0 in the Premier League, in his first game in charge. Should Ancelotti repeat this in tomorrow's Community Shield it would maintain an impressive record against United.
Sir Alex Ferguson was heard in 2008 and last season, when his team had reached the semi-finals of the Champions League, to recall the horrors of April 2007. That was when his side faced Milan, with Ancelotti in charge, in the San Siro and lost – were walloped in fact – 3-0 in the second leg of their semi-final. Usually it is the Scot who leaves deep psychological wounds on his opponents, but in this particular head-to-head, Ancelotti has been the one to inflict all the pain. Throw in another Champions League victory, in the last 16 in February 2005, and you could have mistaken his low-key demeanour yesterday at Cobham, the Chelsea training ground, for profound confidence.
Ancelotti, who took questions in English, with occasional whispered promptings from his friend and informal translator, Bruno Di Michelis, who is part of the Chelsea coaching staff, showed none of the bravura and pomp of Mourinho. Yet in his softly-softly approach, he made his message clear, namely Chelsea must impose themselves. He said: "This is a very important match because with victory we can start the season very well and build confidence.
"It is a very important game. We are playing a great team who reached the Champions League final last season. We have respect for them but want to play well, win and put our quality on the pitch."
As Zhirkov has a knee injury the team Ancelotti sends on to the Wembley pitch - surprisingly it is his first appearance there, as player or manager - will be a familiar one.
Whether a win would prove he is suited to English football it will be too early to tell. He said yesterday he likes the rain and in this wet summer that could have given him a head start. Pity the forecast is for sun.Reuse content