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Ancelotti ready for Man Utd challenge

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Steve Wilson | 11:40 UK time, Saturday, 7 November 2009

For a man who must have been gasping for a cigarette and who told me he was tired before he even sat down, Carlo Ancelotti was a charming interviewee on Friday afternoon.

It was the first time I had interviewed the Italian away from the Match of the Day post-match interview room at Stamford Bridge.

How long you wait for a manager to emerge to meet the cameras is often dependent on the result; but Ancelotti is always prompt. Once his first priority, the post-match fag, has been dealt with he is usually straight out for the cameras.

Our venue on Friday was Chelsea's training ground in leafy Cobham, and the Chelsea boss had just talked brightly thorough a half hour press conference for the TV news cameras, the daily papers and then a brief closed session with the Sunday scribes before he was brought the short distance to our interview room.

"I am really tired today," he said. "Maybe we can just do one minute, eh?" I was pleased to see that he was grinning as he said this. The editor of Football Focus and I had discussed a pretty wide range of questions, I reckoned if we got Ancelotti in a good mood we might get through half of them - if he was in a bad mood we'd hardly get started.

"I am pretty tired myself," I said, "three kids do that."

"Ah, you can never get tired of your children!" he replied. "So this is for BBC One, yes? Lots of people watching! Like Rai Uno - only maybe better?"

As the lights were being adjusted and microphones switched on I asked what sort of wine he would have ready for Sir Alex after the game. He wasn't sure what was in his office at Stamford Bridge but suggested he might find a bottle of Brunello di Montalcino, a particularly lovely Tuscan red.

carloancelott595ap.jpg Ancelotti joined Chelsea in the summer

Then we were off. He spoke enthusiastically about how his squad seem to enjoy each other's company off the pitch as well as on it, a unity which has not always been the case in recent seasons.

I wondered if it would be possible for a man to be in charge of a club in Italy as long as Ferguson has been at Old Trafford. He laughed saying his eight years at Milan were a miracle, more than 20 years - impossible.

He raved about Wayne Rooney and how unusual it is to find a player so effective as creator and finisher. He loves the technique of Torres, but given the choice if building a fantasy team would go for Drogba every time.

We had been chatting for nearly 10 minutes and it was still going well - a good time to move the discussion on.

In an interview with the Italian press earlier this season, Ancelotti stated that the Premier League manager he respected most was Rafa Benitez - not something he was going to repeat 48 hours before facing Ferguson.

"I respect all managers the same" - a reply which got a nod of approval from Chelsea's head of press positioned just off camera.

"What about the World Cup?" I asked. "How will Fabio do with England?"

Ancelotti had played under Capello at Milan in 1991. "His record speaks for itself. But beware, it is very difficult to for a European country to win in Africa. I hope this time is different for Fabio and also for Italy but this will be very difficult."

"What about Trapattoni for Ireland against France?"

"Ah, Trapattoni! He is clever, very clever!"

And with that warning for Malouda and co we had finished our allotted time.

"When is this on TV?" he asked. " I want to watch."

Steve Wilson is commentating on Chelsea v Manchester United for Match of the Day 2 which is on BBC Two from 2200 to 2310 on Sunday


  • Comment number 1.

    Gotta say, Ancelotti does seem like a nice fella, especially for a Premiership manager (and I'm a United fan). Chelsea are playing well so far this season, so so far he's doing a decent job. Can't see United beating them on Sunday either, unfortunately.

  • Comment number 2.

    Bloody hell Steve, I know you need to save the 'beef' of the interview for the telly but that was about as revealing as an interview with a Mafia Don facing a senate committee and taking the 5th Amendment. What was the point exactly?

  • Comment number 3.

    I concur with Ancelotti - When is this on TV, and when can I watch?

  • Comment number 4.

    Sat 14 Nov 20:00 - SkySports 1

  • Comment number 5.

    Yeah Ancelotti seems ok i suppose. His record with Milan was very good and i can see him winning trophies with Chelsea. Im a United fan and i just can't see how we are gonna get a result tomorrow. Wayne Rooney aside we just don't match up the them. I can see us getting swamped in the midfield just like the scousers did and we all know what happened there. Im going for Chelsea to win the title this year and it's up to United and Arsenal to fight it out for 2nd and 3rd. I hope im wrong.

  • Comment number 6.

    i agree with wordsofwisdom. what is the point of this blog post? and if i may ask, whatever happened to gavin strachan?

  • Comment number 7.


    I think you need to read the article again.

    I have read it twice, and in the article I really cant't find a theme or issue to comment on.

    As for the match tomorrow, everyone, including their own fans, seem to be underestimating United.

    They gave us a very hard game in the Charity Shield, and we are still vulnerable at set pieces, which could see Vidic benefit.

    I would expect it to be close, yes if Chelsea are at their very best, then they should win, but anyhting slightly below best performance and United have the experience and know how to inflict damage.

  • Comment number 8.

    Well I enjoyed the blog, it was lighthearted for sure, but not every blog has to be an opinion piece. I guess we will have to watch FF to hear him answer the grittier questions.
    As for whether people are underestimating United, I bet you are all hoping that this will produce the same result as when all the United fans thought they would thrash Liverpool a couple of weeks ago. Wishful thinking.
    I predict a good game and the better team, Chelsea, will take the points.

  • Comment number 9.

    Should be a good game with ManU just edging it. Ancelotti is one of very few managers in world football with the ability, character and tacical awareness to run SAF close.

  • Comment number 10.

    #6 - Gavin Strachan isn't playing in the Football League anymore, and as his blog was the Football League blog he no longer does it. Michael Gray's blog is the replacement.

  • Comment number 11.

    I'm personally a big fan of Ancelotti as a person, and I think this blog does a great job of illustrating his character. Why should journalists spend their whole time writing deadly serious copy the whole time - particularly in a blog? I say well done Steve.

  • Comment number 12.

    where's joedavisroach when you need him?

  • Comment number 13.

    Just hope SAF doesn't start with Paul Scholes in midfield. Anderson and Fletcher if you ask me. Valencia and Giggs on the wings. Rooney free role in the hole behind Berba. Defence will be a problem. Does Vidic start? Evans and Him I hope are fit. Not that Wes Brown/O shea suff please. Wouldn t be surprised if Obertan cam late on ... Owen for a Cameo. He can be groomed for a future role. He seems to be good. Though Chelsea are favs, United play them better than they do the other top four. In Anticipation.

  • Comment number 14.

    How long will it take for Diddler Drogba to start his tantrums and dive all over the pitch?

  • Comment number 15.

    i like ancelotti, seems like a gd guy, hope chelsea dont win tomoz tho, with our form against the top 4 over the last year we can still turn this round once our injuries subside a little so either a draw or united win would suit us best, only 8 points behind with plenty of time left

  • Comment number 16.

    How long will it take SAF to cry FOUL! when they lose

  • Comment number 17.

    i hope as it's rememberance sunday, that united and chelse both have poppies on their shirts, chelsea have in the past, but i've never seen united remember our armed forces ! come on united

  • Comment number 18.

    it's time people stop talking about manu and chelsea and realize the title is arsenal's to lose. they took apart manu losing only to bad luck and let's see how it goes against chelsea next time. THIS could be the decider. if verm contains the drog and anelka doesn't play at 100% it will be very interesting, esp as they will undoubtedly drop points during ACN...the spoiler could be hargreaves if he returns to form manu are in w/ a much bigger chance...

  • Comment number 19.

    Its naive to say that the title is Arsenal's to lose, we're only 12 games in. I'm pretty sure that at 12 games last season, Utd were rotting somewhere in the bottom half of the table and they came back to win it.

    This season has seen all the big clubs (and I extend that to include Spurs, City, Villa and possibly Sunderland) have lost silly points, the end result being that the league is more competitive and less predictable.

    #6 - Gavin Strachan was released by Notts County at the end of last season and I dont think he has found another team yet, so maybe thats why he isnt posting at the moment.

  • Comment number 20.

    What's the point of this blog entry, it doesn't say anything at all

  • Comment number 21.

    Seems you did everything right till getting him down to answer your questions. Were those the questions you discussed with your colleague?? you could have chosen better questions...

    Or is this just a preview and you want us to watch the full movie ;) at BBC One ???

  • Comment number 22.

    guys, I would like to protest. WHY ISN'T FOOTBALL FOCUS ON BBC iPLAYER?

    Please show support for this cause!

  • Comment number 23.


    "guys, I would like to protest. WHY ISN'T FOOTBALL FOCUS ON BBC iPLAYER?"

    Obviously because it is totally biased rubbish! Why wouldn't you prefer a decent ballet or a good opera?

  • Comment number 24.

    Another great blog Steve - telling us nothing at all!!

    you may aswell have said i interviewed Ancelotti to hear what was said watch the footage on wherever it is at whatever time it is.

  • Comment number 25.

    "You lose faith in refereeing, that's the way the players see it," he said.

    "The referee's position to make the decision [for the goal] was absolutely ridiculous.

    "He can't see anything. It was a bad decision."

    only fergie - fact - can say this sort of thing and not be punished, especially given that jonny evans tried to put his boot right through the chest the striker who cried wolf. carlo is maybe a bit too classy to complain after. if only the same were true of fergie.

  • Comment number 26.

    Waiting for a new blog based on weekend matches. BBC experts are you listening? Phil - May be you are waiting to write on Liverpool's classy performance on Monday night. Robbo - Can we have a laugh riot blog based on weekend performances (2 own goals in Arsenal game, the Citeh draw against Burnley, Greater Manchester's defeat at Stamford Bridge. (Fletch was doing gr8 in the game. Deco started playing 11 just to even up with Ryan Giggs, else it would have been a huge complex factor for United.

    New blogs please!!!

  • Comment number 27.

    I don't think anyone's in the least bit surprised that there hasn't been a blog over the weekend - the BBC are plainly waiting in hope that they can have another pop at Benitez.

    Never mind that £200m in a season-and-a-half City failed against tiny Burnley, or that Ferguson (with a points-per-game tally of 1.93 - exactly the same as Benitez) failed yet again at Chelsea.

  • Comment number 28.


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