London: A possible League and Cup double, a shock Champions League exit, the private lives of his players splashed all over the front pages -- just a “normal” first season at Chelsea according to manager Carlo Ancelotti.
Even allowing for the Italian’s limited English vocabulary his shoulder-shrugging verdict on Friday was a surprising one.
Victory at home to Wigan Athletic on Sunday would secure Chelsea’s first Premier League title since 2006 and a win over Portsmouth in the FA Cup final six days later would earn the Londoners their first domestic Double.
As the unexcitable Ancelotti, 50, looked back over an eventful time since his arrival from AC Milan last June, everything else was considered a sideshow.
“Really, I didn’t have strong problems to resolve, it was normal,” Ancelotti told reporters at the club’s training ground.
“We lost some games and had a difficult moment after Manchester City and Inter (Milan) defeats but we moved on very quickly.”
He said the antics of skipper John Terry, who was stripped of the England captaincy after media reports of his affair with the girlfriend of former team mate Wayne Bridge, and left back Ashley Cole, whose marital problems were also front-page news, had no impact.
“That was not a problem for me, they were personal issues,” said Ancelotti. “Ash and John Terry were able to keep these problems outside the training ground and I never spoke about the personal problems.
“If they had needed to speak with me about this I would have been able to help. But if they don’t ask me to do something, it’s not my problem. They didn’t, absolutely not.”
Having lost at Wigan in September and aware a draw for leaders Chelsea in the final league game of the season opens the door for second-placed Manchester United against Stoke City, Ancelotti was not taking anything for granted.
With a knowing grin towards the dozens of reporters anxious for a snappy headline, he said: “It would be a tragedy if we lost the last game after 10 months of doing a good job ... a disaster.
“I don’t want to say it’s our destiny but we did a fantastic job and we are in a very good situation.
“But Wigan are a good team, they’ve beaten us so we have to pay attention. They have a lot of skill and pace up front and caused us a lot of difficulty in that first game.
“To be champions we have to play as we did against Stoke (in last month’s 7-0 win) and against Liverpool (in last weekend’s 2-0 Anfield success). We have to maintain the same confidence and determination.”
Ancelotti said he felt his team, who have beaten United, Arsenal and Liverpool home and away this season and are one point clear at the top, would be worthy champions and owner Roman Abramovich would be pleased with the style in which it had been achieved.
“I think Roman will be happy with this team. We are playing good football, showing good fair play on the pitch,” he said.
Ancelotti dismissed the idea Chelsea would be going all out to score five to become the first top-flight team since Tottenham Hotspur almost 50 years ago to hit 100 league goals in a season.
“We need one more goal than Wigan, we are not interested in the other records,” he said.
Having added an attacking fizz to Chelsea this season, Ancelotti spoke of his admiration for previous teams known for their flair.
“For entertainment, Brazil in 1970, and Milan in ‘88 was a fantastic team with a fantastic midfield,” he said with a smile of his former side.
“I had the honour to play in a team that not only won but made history. Milan in that period changed the philosophy of Italian football.
“There are a lot of (flair) teams who didn’t win titles -- Holland in 1974 -- and everyone I think that loves football thinks of that team and not the team who won the World Cup.
“But I prefer to be Germany,” said Ancelotti of the 1954, 1974 and 1990 world champions.