IN FRONT of a baying press pack Carlo Ancelotti yesterday gave a first-rate impression of a manager utterly untroubled by his job. Yet for some it will be hard to shake the suspicion that it was just that: an impression.
He flashed a broad grin on his entrance to the media room at Chelsea’s Cobham training complex, and exited after engaging in banter with newspaper journalists over whether he ought to read today’s editions.
In between he denied rumours he had considered quitting, maintaining his laid-back charm despite searching questions about his happiness at Stamford Bridge.
Even when his patience wore thin, when he reminded reporters there was a game that also merited discussion, it was done with a warmth that elicited laughter.
Yet some moments raised eyebrows other than his own. Did he still think Chelsea was a normal club, he was asked in reference to suggestions he had no say in the replacing of his assistant? Yes, he said, although his hearty laughter was hardly convincing.
Had Ambramovich ever tried to impose a team selection on him, one ambitious interlocutor offered? “Don’t joke!” he replied.
Lingering doubts aside, it was a composed, consummate performance from Ancelotti. How his team could use one tonight.