Ancelotti Toasts Chelsea Future After Winning Premier League Championship
Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti shook his head and raised a glass of red wine.
“My level of wine is high -- easy questions please,” the Italian coach said after watching his team rack up a record win to seal the Premier League title on the last day of the season.
Yesterday’s 8-0 victory over Wigan Athletic prevented Manchester United winning an unprecedented fourth straight English soccer championship and brought the trophy to west London for the first time since Jose Mourinho ended a 50-year wait with back-to-back triumphs in 2005 and 2006.
Mourinho’s shadow has hung over Stamford Bridge since the Portuguese’s unexpected departure in September 2007. Avram Grant, Luiz Felipe Scolari and Guus Hiddink came and went as managers before Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich hired Ancelotti 11 months ago after he left AC Milan.
“Every victory stays in your mind and this my first season so I’m happy,” Ancelotti said, wearing a championship winner’s medal around his neck. “This club will have a future because these players are not so old and we have a very good squad. After this first year I hope to stay here a long time and win a lot of titles.”
While Russian billionaire Abramovich has spent more than 750 million pounds ($1.1 billion) on the Blues since buying the club in 2003, Ancelotti needed very little of that largesse.
Chelsea won the championship with a core including captain John Terry, midfielder Frank Lampard and league-leading scorer Didier Drogba, who all starred in earlier title-winning teams. The 21 million pounds spent on players in the offseason was the second lowest in Abramovich’s seven years in charge.
“It’s been a great Premier League season and I think in the end we deserved to come out on top,” said Lampard, who scored the second goal yesterday from the penalty spot. “We finished the season in style.”
Drogba netted a hat trick against Wigan to end the campaign with 29 league goals, three more than nearest rival Wayne Rooney of Manchester United.
Nicolas Anelka got two and Salomon Kalou and Ashley Cole added second-half strikes to help Chelsea lift its season tally to 103 and become the first team since Tottenham in 1963 to score 100 league goals in England’s elite division. Wigan followed Stoke, Aston Villa and Sunderland in allowing at least seven goals at Stamford Bridge this season.
Manchester United finished on 85 points, one fewer than the Blues, after beating Stoke 4-0 at home yesterday. Ancelotti said Chelsea’s 2-1 victory at Old Trafford on April 3 had been the “key for this title.”
“Manchester United ran until the last game and for this we have to be proud because we were up against a fantastic team,” added Ancelotti.
Terry pumped his arms in the air and cheered loudly when referee Martin Atkinson brought the match to an end. The defender was stripped of the England captaincy in February following alleged infidelity with a former teammate’s ex- girlfriend. His wife and twins cheered as Terry held aloft the Premier League trophy.
“It’s been inside of me for three years, seeing Man United lift it season after season and every single one of us has sat there and watched it,” Terry said in a televised interview. “Now it’s their turn to sit there and watch us.”
More celebrations could follow in five days when the Blues take on Portsmouth in the F.A. Cup final at Wembley stadium in London. Victory would see Chelsea win both trophies in the same season for the first time.
“Now we have the opportunity to win the double and I hope that my players can, after these celebrations,” Ancelotti said.