CARLO ANCELOTTI wants to remain at Chelsea for as long as possible and then bring down the curtain on his career in six years time.
The Italian coach has guided Chelsea to eight straight wins in all competitions so far this season. But the former AC Milan coach admits he has changed his mind about retiring on a number of occasions since he began his managerial adventure in 1995.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger insists he will never retire from the profession but Ancelotti has set his sights on finally walking away from the game in 2015.
“I started to train in 1995 and, after two years of this job, I thought that, for me, I would end my career in 2000,” said Ancelotti.
“When I got to 2000, I said: ‘Now it’s better to continue because I like this.’ I thought I’d close my career in 2005 but after the Champions League final defeat against Liverpool, I thought it was better to continue. Now, my stop is 2015.
“I hope to stay here. It depends not only on me. But I can say that, after three months here, I hope to stay a long time.”
Ancelotti will aim for his seventh straight league win at Wigan today and will include England midfielder Joe Cole, who made his long awaited comeback against Queens Park Rangers in the Carling Cup in midweek, and Yuri Zhirkov, 26, in his squad. The pair will start on the bench but Ancelotti already believes Cole can soon rediscover his top form and even force his way back into England’s World Cup plans.
Cole, 28, set up Salomon Kalou’s winning goal against Rangers and showed no ill-effects from the knee ligament damage which ended his season last January.
“Joe played very well and shows very good condition,” said Ancelotti. “I’m very happy for him. After eight months out, it’s not easy to play like he does. I’m sure that England coach Fabio Capello knows him very well. I’m sure Joe can do very good things for the England team.
“He had great matches in the past with England. He can return and put this quality on the pitch for the national team. Yuri had a different problem, but he had a good 60 minutes. Now he’s not in such good condition and he’ll have to improve this. He’s at 70% of his physical condition, but both of them will travel to Wigan. We will start with them on the bench, but there’s a chance they can play.”
Striker Didier Drogba is fit to play against the Latics after shaking off the calf injury which forced him out of the game against Tottenham last Sunday.
“Didier had a problem last week, but he’s completely rested and trained very well yesterday,” added the Italian. “He’s all right to play tomorrow.”
Chelsea are now on an unbeaten run of 23 games stretching back to last March but breaking records is not something on Ancelotti’s mind.
“I don’t need supplementary motivation,” he added. “I just want to do my best for this team and maintain this atmosphere.
“At the moment there’s a very good atmosphere around this team. We have won all the games, so that atmosphere isn’t unusual.
“Wigan like to play football on the ground, they don’t use a lot of long balls and we have respect for this team because they have very good players.”
Meanwhile, winger Florent Malouda, 29, has warned Chelsea team-mate Zhirkov he is in the best form of his career and is ready to fight for his place.
Zhirkov joined Chelsea from CSKA Moscow for £18 million (€19.5m) in the summer and is challenging Malouda for his place in the side after recovering from a knee injury.
Zhirkov impressed on his debut against QPR in midweek, playing behind Malouda at left-back, but the left-sided midfielder would prefer to play further forward.
“Every player who joins Chelsea knows there will be competition,” said Malouda.
“When you have ambitions to go far in every competition you must have a strong squad so there is naturally competition and everybody is ready for that. That’s our job and we train hard to prove to the manager we deserve to play and to make sure we stay in the team. Last season I was performing really well. I had a stronger season so I’m still progressing and I’m close to my highest level.”
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