A bridge too far for Ancelotti

CARLO ANCELOTTI has dismissed any suggestion that he could become Chelsea’s new manager.

The AC Milan coach issued an unequivocal statement last night pledging his loyalty to the Serie A side for the foreseeable future.

“I’m staying at AC Milan for sure, and for many seasons to come,” the Italian said.

“I’ve not spoken to anyone at Chelsea — any other reports are football talk and pure speculation.”

Ancelotti’s words followed hot on the heels of Chelsea’s own denial of reports that they had made an approach for the double Champions League winner and agreed terms for him to take over.

He was strongly linked with the Stamford Bridge post yesterday amid suggestions his advisors have reached a settlement with the Blues over a move to England.

But both Chelsea and Milan refuted claims that he could be in line to replace the sacked Avram Grant.

“Contrary to reports, Chelsea Football Club has not reached agreement with any individual to become manager, nor have we sought permission from any organisation to talk to their manager,” a Chelsea statement read.

“We are extremely happy how our search is progressing.”

AC Milan vice president Adriano Galliani, also denied Ancelotti met Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich during a visit to Paris on Monday.

The Rossoneri boss was reported to have met the Russian at the Four Seasons hotel in the French capital to discuss terms to take over at the west London club, but Galliani has been assured by Ancelotti the reports are incorrect.

“I have spoken to Ancelotti and can confirm that he was in Paris on Monday, but not to meet Abramovich,” Galliani said.

“That is something he has denied expressively.

“He was in Paris on his own business.

“Ancelotti is coach of Milan and will continue to be so.”

The 48-year-old is under contract with Milan until 2010.

The Serie A club are keen to keep hold of the coach despite his lack of silverware this season and him failing to secure Champions League qualification for next season.

New Inter Milan coach Jose Mourinho would not reveal whether he thought Ancelotti would be the right man to take the position he himself occupied until seven months ago.

And he insisted his former employer knows what he is doing.

“Ancelotti is a great coach and Chelsea is a big club with great players, but Abramovich has better experience of football at the moment than when he started with Chelsea, and I don’t think he needs any other opinion,” Mourinho said at his unveiling in Milan yesterday.

“I cannot say if Ancelotti wants to move there or not, or whether Milan are open to the offer or closed.

“All I can say is that I support Chelsea and wish the best to whoever does take over.”

Ancelotti has won the Champions League twice with Milan and his European experience is particularly desirable to Chelsea, who lost the final of this year’s elite club competition on penalties to Manchester United.

Meanwhile, Blues goalkeeper Petr Cech admits that managerial changes are difficult to deal with for all players.

Mourinho was sacked by Chelsea last September and Grant followed him out of the door at the end of the season despite leading the Blues to their first Champions League final and pushing Manchester United to the wire in the Barclays Premier League.

“When you change a manager, there is always the atmosphere that you never know what is going to happen because there is a new man coming in, he has got other ideas so some people might play, some might not — so it is always difficult to deal with,” admits Cech.

“Everyone has to deal with this individually and as a group. Everyone needs to be together and try to move on and to focus on football, which is not easy to do.

“At a club, as Chelsea is, you need to impress a manager every day. If you do not perform well in the training sessions or you don’t work hard to show your manager you are ready for the game, you are at the same risk as when a new manager comes in."


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