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Carlo Ancelotti has won respect

07 May 2011 03:04:51

Carlo Ancelotti has won respect

ShareWhen Carlo Ancelotti had a problem with Jose Mourinho, he decided on a very unusual resolution. He talked to him about it. Common sense, one might think, but not in football. The success of the Premier League is built, in part, on tiffs and rifts, grown men harbouring grudges nurtured lovingly over decades. Rafael Benitez with his facts about Manchester United; Sir Alex Ferguson with his conspiracy theories. Mourinho thought the Reading ambulance service had it in for him at one time. Arsene Wenger arrived as a professor, all reason and logic, and is now described by Harry Redknapp as one of the key nutters. Calmness personified: Carlo Ancelotti refuses to be riled by the petty niggling all too evident in football Into this maelstrom of headlines, claim and counter-claim, egos, plots and plot-lines, walked Ancelotti. Somehow, almost two years on, he remains unchanged. He is no ice-man, certainly not emotionless on the touchline, but he is sincere, respectful, and a Premier League manager with an adult's perspective on football, which makes him a rare being these days. After feeling uncomfortable trading barbs with Mourinho before Chelsea's Champions League tie against Inter Milan last season, Ancelotti approached his rival with a peace offering. He recalled: 'Mourinho started the mind games before the first leg, he said a few things, so when we played the game I said to him that we shouldn't have to keep speaking through the newspapers. If he wanted to speak with me directly, he could, but it is not good done through the media.   More from Martin Samuel... MARTIN SAMUEL: The school that gives everyone a sporting chance05/05/11 Martin Samuel: Give us an occasion that does justice to Wembley '6804/05/11 Martin Samuel: Stop Sian madness - only lunatics would say it was foul play04/05/11 Martin Samuel: Sir Alex Ferguson's partisan agenda insults referees 03/05/11 Martin Samuel: Well done Arsene but you still need an upgrade to win big01/05/11 Martin Samuel: A comeback for Houllier could be just what the doctor orders01/05/11 MARTIN SAMUEL: Be honest lads, you'd rather be hiding in the loft28/04/11 Martin Samuel: Neuer must be Sir Alex's No 1 choice after stunning show26/04/11 VIEW FULL ARCHIVE 'It was time to stop. He agreed. After that, we did not have a problem. I hear Jose had a problem with some other people last week, but he doesn't have a problem with me.'  Few do. Ancelotti is almost universally popular with his fellow managers, who respect his professional skills and honesty, and neutrals, who appreciate that a Chelsea team once considered relentlessly uncompromising and physical now top the Fair Play league. Unless they can beat Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday, of course, that is all they will top this season and Ancelotti is openly familiar with the speculation that suggests he could be approaching his final games in charge of Chelsea. Yet through it all his demeanour stays unaltered. In a week in which Ferguson has twice used his public profile to place pressure on the match referee, Howard Webb claiming Chelsea get favourable decisions in major matches, and Manchester United do not Ancelotti resisted the opportunity to get down and dirty with the opposition manager as the defining match of the season approached. 'If you want to fight a war, there has to be two sides, not just one,' said Ancelotti. 'So if one wants war and you don't react, there is no war. I like peace. I have a very good relationship with the managers here. Really good with Ferguson, but also with the other coaches, with Tony Pulis and Harry Redknapp. I'm happy for that. 'We can stay here a long time if we want to speak about referees. Sometimes you are lucky, sometimes not. We were really lucky against Tottenham Hotspur, yes, but I could  mention other times when we were unlucky, in games against Inter Milan and Manchester United, for instance. 'I don't like to do this. If the referee makes a mistake, as all referees do in the world, it is normal. You have to accept that. The problem is that you either accept the mistakes of the referees or you say there is a conspiracy. There is no thought in between. You either have to accept a decision can be mistaken, or say it is a deliberate conspiracy. I am a man who believes referees make mistakes. 'I do not worry that pressure has been put on Sunday's referee. I never worry about this in England. I had a different experience in Italy where referees are really under pressure. Here, I have trust in them. They are good, I think. They don't have problems from me. Maybe, if the referee had no experience, I might be a little concerned, but not with Howard Webb. Chalk and cheese: Jose Mourinho (left) and Ancelotti are very different characters 'Sometimes, when things are not good, people speak about bad decisions but it is not good to speak about the past and it is not good to speak about the referee. There is no advantage to talk against the referee. The decision is already made, so to keep speaking about it is no good. You lose energy. You have to accept all decisions, good and bad, full stop. 'Anyway, I don't want to put  pressure on the referee. We have a fantastic referee for this game in Howard Webb.' The feelgood factor generated by Ancelotti has restored Chelsea to the title race after a mid-season blip that threatened to become a tailspin. Ancelotti lost his assistant coach Ray Wilkins in the standard Chelsea furore and acquired a ?50million striker-cum-millstone called Fernando Torres, who will be on the bench at Old Trafford, if the manager wants to give his team the best chance of victory. Yet through it all, Ancelotti has maintained his dignity and Chelsea's recovery is testament to his calmness under pressure. The Fair Play plaudits demonstrate a group of players taking their lead from the manager, and emerging stronger for it. Doubling up: Didier Drogba scores Chelsea's vital second goal against United last season No season is without its controversial moments and Ashley Cole is always good for a public-relations disaster or two but Ancelotti's quiet influence on his team can be seen in John Terry's restoration to the role of England captain, and Didier Drogba's acceptance of changed status, resulting from a surplus of world-class strikers. 'If the players have good behaviour on the pitch, it's good for the club and also for the team,' Ancelotti said. 'If the players are too nervous on the pitch, you won't get good results. 'I think that mentally we have an advantage. Obviously, Manchester United hoped they wouldn't have to play this kind of game against us. If they'd had more of a lead it could have been a different game, maybe an easy game. Now they have to fight again for the title. Maybe two or three weeks ago they didn't think they would have to fight so much with us. 'It will be the same message as always before this game: be calm, be relaxed, and believe in yourselves. There is not a lot else to do. The players are motivated. The problem is fear. Losing energy by being too afraid. Hopping mad: Alex Ferguson has spent the week talking about referees 'I know one thing. The line-up will not be what decides this; 4-4-2or 4-3-3 will not be important. This will be decided through the courage of the players, the personality, the character. We have to play at our best and be unafraid. I am sure it is the same for United.' And although the advantage is with the home side who can probably afford to draw and keep Chelsea at bay with wins in their last two matches against Blackburn and Blackpool the fact that Ferguson has spent the last week talking, indirectly, to Howard Webb, is not the sign of a man who feels entirely assured about his immediate future.  For while Ancelotti has been sending out vibes of, if not quite peace, then certainly geniality, come 4.10pm at Old Trafford on Sunday, one imagines the mood will be quite different. 'So you are a pacifist then, Carlo?' he was asked, following his war analogy. 'Not always,' he replied.  Jame Redknapp: How the Old Trafford decider will play outMartin Keown: It's a tough trip going to Old Trafford, on and off the pitchFergie's in his fortress: Home form gives United the edge as Chelsea come to town  Explore more:People: Alex Ferguson, Tony Pulis, Rafael Benitez, Harry Redknapp, Ashley Cole, Didier Drogba, Fernando Torres, Jose Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti Places: Italy, United Kingdom


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