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We'll thwart Roman Abramovich again! Rio Ferdinand's back to lock it down and prolong Chelsea wait

12 Apr 2011 07:18:47

We'll thwart Roman Abramovich again! Rio Ferdinand's back to lock it down and prolong Chelsea wait

Not for the first time in recent weeks, a senior figure from Manchester United stared down the lens of a television camera and swore. It was the B-word rather than the F-word, and the fact that it was used as a noun rather than a verb rendered it completely inoffensive, but Sky still felt the need to apologise for the language Sir Alex Ferguson employed to describe Rio Ferdinand. It was actually a term of endearment for the player who sat alongside him. A player, Carlo Ancelotti might be alarmed to discover, who has not experienced defeat in a United shirt this season. Not once in 21 matches, including the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final at Stamford Bridge last week. That performance from Ferdinand was all the more impressive because it was his first appearance in more than two months. But Ferguson expected nothing less from a fine centre half and his presence certainly gives United's manager confidence going into this evening's game at Old Trafford. Added composure: Rio Ferdinand (right) kept Fernando Torres at bay on his return to the United starting line-up Even if Ferdinand's last defeat in a United shirt was against Chelsea at Old Trafford in the Barclays Premier League 12 months ago. 'I was praying Rio would be fit for last week,' said Ferguson after revealing how the player had gone to the bother of driving a golf buggy to where his manager was watching a youth-team game to inform him of his availability. 'Because what he gives us is composure,' added Ferguson. 'We don't expect Chris Smalling, at 21 years of age, to be directing and instructing players. But Rio does that really well. He has composure on the ball, doesn't panic, handles everything. That was probably one of his best performances in a United jersey last week. Absolutely magnificent.' It was moments like that that highlighted the contrast between these two teams. One oozing confidence from its position at the summit of the Premier League; the other a sense of desperation. Still goalless: Torres would love to break his Chelsea duck at Old Trafford The pressure on Chelsea is much more intense; on Ancelotti, on Fernando Torres, on a group ofChelsea players who would have seen a referee's failure to award them a penalty last week as further evidence they are jinxed in Europe's most prestigious competition. Ancelotti was his usual charming self, even making a joke when asked to reveal the 'special' plan he had hatched after spending Saturday watching repeats of that first-leg defeat. 'I will tell you face to face, but not here,' he said. But the agenda was all too familiar; his future, the possibility that defeat this evening might well result in his dismissal at the end of the season and the failure, so far, by Torres to score for Chelsea. Ancelotti would not confirm if he intended to start with Torres. Only that 'he will play'. But Ferguson employed a tactic used last season by Jose Mourinho, who had accused Barcelona of 'obsessing' about the prospect of lifting the European Cup at the Santiago Bernabeu before guiding his Inter Milan side through an enthralling semi-final. 'It seems it has become an obsession with them to win the European Cup,' said Ferguson. 'That is certainly why they signed Fernando Torres in January. There is no question of that in my mind. That is an obvious reason for signing the lad. 'I had that obsession myself for a long time, losing the semi-final against Borussia Dortmund in 1997. I thought we were never going to do it. Eric Cantona told me he was retiring the day after. So when we won in Barcelona in 1999 it was the greatest feeling of all time. It took the monkey off my back a bit. '[Roman] Abramovich, the owner, has very much nailed his colours to the mast in that respect. I've felt that for quite a while with him. But at the end of the day it is a very difficult competition to win. 'All the best teams are there. You see the form of Barcelona it's fantastic. It looks like it is going to be Barcelona and Real Madrid in the semi-finals and can you imagine what that is going to be like?' It was rather presumptuous to then turn to Ferdinand and ask if 'our semi-final' would be on the same night. 'If they are on different days, I'll be there for that,' he said. Head to head: Sir Alex Ferguson (left) will lock swords with Carlo Ancelotti once more This is where Ancelotti is different to the majority of his players. He has lifted the European Cup four times, twice as a manager and twice as a player. And he responded to Ferguson by insisting it was 'not an obsession but a dream'. Ferguson's assessment is probably more accurate, though. Particularly when it comes to Abramovich. Ancelotti told this newspaper recently that there is no recognition of the past in football, and it seems to matter not to the Russian billionaire that the Italian secured a domestic league and FA Cup double in his first season at Stamford Bridge. No, Abramovich only appears to remember the crushing defeat to Mourinho's Inter and he will not take it terribly well tonight if his team fail again. As figures last week revealed, he has invested the best part of a billion quid in his club. Ancelotti saw little point in trying to draw inspiration from their win in the league at United last season. Or, indeed, the 2-1 league win at Stamford Bridge last month. 'This is a different story,' he said, and it is. A different Chelsea team, too. A Chelsea team who have shown little evidence this season that they are capable of recovering from a 1-0 defeat to win this tie. Chelsea's manager insisted he was 'not worried'; that he was 'happy to have this opportunity'. And he said it was 'simply' a case of 'being better than Manchester United'. Only this season they aren't, and the contrast between Ferguson and Ancelotti demonstrated as much.  Pressure, what pressure? Carlo says he won't be sacked if Chelsea get KO'd Martin Samuel: Dismiss United at your peril - Fergie has quietly rebuilt a formidable forceIs Torres really up to the job or does Ancelotti drop his ?50m striker?Ancelotti bidding for repeat of his ultimate Old Trafford glory night with MilanMartin Keown's Big Match Dossier: Pea is for Perfect in United's dream strikeforceThree feelgood facts for Fergie and Manchester United... and three reasons to cheer Carlo and ChelseaAll the latest Chelsea news, features and opinionAll the latest Manchester United news, features and opinion  Explore more:People: Alex Ferguson, Rio Ferdinand, Fernando Torres, Jose Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti Places: Barcelona, Europe


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