CARLO ANCELOTTI insists Chelsea are on the same level as Manchester United despite Harry Redknapp’s dig at the Blues ahead of tomorrow’s clash with Tottenham at Stamford Bridge.
Spurs boss Redknapp claimed on Thursday that Chelsea have a long way to go before the club are big enough to be classed in the “same bracket as Manchester United”.
Chelsea’s chief-executive Peter Kenyon quit the club this week — five years after he vowed to “turn the world blue” by 2010, and four years after he pledged to make the Blues “the world’s number one club” by 2014.
But since Roman Abramovich took control of the club in 2003, Chelsea have struggled to win the Champions League — despite reaching five semi-finals in the last six seasons.
But Ancelotti insists there is parity between them and United.
“Chelsea are on the same level as Manchester United, as a club and as a team,” declared Ancelotti.
“The only thing is that Manchester has more tradition in respect to Chelsea, but this means that for us it can be a very good motivation to start this season very well.”
Former chief operating officer Ron Gourlay has been installed as the new chief executive but Ancelotti took time out to pay tribute to the work of the outgoing Kenyon. His departure also puts the spotlight back on club sporting director Frank Arnesen.
The Dane is responsible for the academy at the club and in the wake of FIFA’s transfer ban for inducing youngster Gael Kakuta to breach his contract with Lens two years ago, his position is expected to come under further scrutiny.
But Ancelotti said: “The role of Frank Arnesen is sporting director and he is working very close with me. I have a good relationship with him and we want to do the best for the club.
“Peter Kenyon did a very good job but I didn’t know him very well. I spoke with him in the period that I’ve been here but he leaves a fantastic team and club and he worked very well for Chelsea.”
Ancelotti also confirmed that Chelsea have reached an agreement with Croatian club Inter Zapresic for young goalkeeper Matej Delac to join them in 2011. Delac will remain with the Croatian club for the next two years, during which period Chelsea will pay his wages.
Delac will also travel to London whenever possible to train with the Blues and will then be under contract for five years.
Ancelotti said: “He is a young goalkeeper getting very good experience in his country and we think he can be very good in the future. He will stay in Croatia to play next season and then come to play with us.”
Chelsea are banned from signing any new players for the next two transfer windows but Ancelotti believes FIFA are happy with their latest move.
Chelsea will welcome back Didier Drogba and Jose Bosingwa for tomorrow’s clash. The pair were suspended for the midweek Champions League win over Porto but are available for domestic games.
Joe Cole (knee), Yuri Zhirkov (knee) and Paulo Ferreira (knee) are all out while defender Alex is still struggling with a groin injury.
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