No farewell blues as Ancelotti ignores sack threat
Carlo Ancelotti is anxious his Chelsea team finishes the season in style but the focus at Stamford Bridge is now trained on the manager's future rather than the team's bid to finish second.sports Updated: May 14, 2011 13:56 IST
Carlo Ancelotti is anxious his Chelsea team finishes the season in style but the focus at Stamford Bridge is now trained on the manager's future rather than the team's bid to finish second.
The Blues' title charge came to an abrupt halt at Old Trafford last weekend when they lost 2-1 to Manchester United, all but securing Sir Alex Ferguson's side's grip on the championship trophy.
A difficult campaign has been lifted by a late resurgence but Chelsea's mid-season dip ultimately cost them any hope of silverware and there is a growing belief the Italian will pay for failure with his job.
Club captain John Terry voiced his support for the under-fire manager but with Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich apparently poised to make changes, the visit of Newcastle could mark the final home game of the manager's two-season tenure.
"I don't know what is going to happen about my future, but I'm not nervous," Ancelotti said. "I'm quiet. I'm calm. I hope to stay, I've said a lot of times, but if something's changed I will find another solution without problem."
"It's not been an easy season. You have to manage the good and bad moments. In football, sometimes you have to manage things.
"Our bad moment was too long. We were, in that moment, thinking it would be shorter. But this is football. No news."
With the title gone, the manager has targeted runners-up spot and will face Newcastle with virtually a fully fit squad, with only full backs Jose Bosingwa and Ryan Bertrand missing.
"We don't have to think we can win the title again. Our aim is to reach second place."
"We have a possibility, winning the game against Newcastle. This is the motivation for the players -- to play a good game, have a reaction after the bad game we had against United.
"It's not been an easy week because we lost something. Before the game against United, everything was ok. Now our aims have changed. But second place is important. We have to do our best to reach this position in the table."
Newcastle have selection concerns in central midfield as they look for a first league victory at Stamford Bridge in 24 years, although they secured a 4-3 League Cup win at the home of the Blues earlier this season.
Skipper Kevin Nolan is unavailable until next season after undergoing ankle surgery, and his midfield partner Cheik Tiote is likely to be rested as the Ivorian international is only one booking away from racking-up 15 for the campaign, which would trigger a three-match ban at the outset of next season.
Experienced midfield duo Ryan Taylor and Alan Smith could return to the starting line-up to help fill the void, although with Premier League safety assured and Chelsea's title hopes all but academic, manager Alan Pardew may opt to blood one or two or his younger players.
Newcastle can still secure a top-half finish on their Premier League return, which would be no mean feat given the way they were written off by many pundits to make an immediate return to the Championship following promotion last season.
There's also the small matter of local bragging rights on the line, as they currently lead North-East rivals Sunderland on goal difference with two games left.
"I know it would mean a lot to our fans to finish above Sunderland, and because it's important to them it makes it important to me as well," Pardew said.
"It'll probably be a different type of atmosphere down at Chelsea as they're not going for the title which might make the job a little bit easier, but of course they're a top team who will want to finish the season strongly, just like us."