Carlo Ancelotti has said he holds no grudges against Roman Abramovich or Chelsea as the Everton manager prepares to face his former club for the first time since his ruthless dismissal in 2011.
The Italian was famously sacked in the corridors of Goodison Park at the end of his second season as Chelsea manager, having guided the club to the Premier League and FA Cup double in his first campaign and finished league runners-up in his second. Ancelotti, who established a close rapport with Frank Lampard during his time at Stamford Bridge, has watched a few Chelsea games since leaving the club but Sunday will be his first competitive appearance back there. He is free to take his place on the touchline having avoided a ban for being sent off after Everton’s draw against Manchester United on Sunday.
“It can happen,” was Ancelotti’s sanguine take on his Chelsea dismissal. “Maybe the club wants to change something in the structure of the club and they sack a manager; it doesn’t matter. The fact that I was sacked cannot change what I felt there – it was two fantastic years. There were problems in the second part of the final year but at the end it was a fantastic experience.
“I spoke with him [Abramovich] maybe three times since. I still have a good relationship with him. He was very kind the two or three times I went back to watch Chelsea games and so I have to say thanks to him because he gave to me a great opportunity to be the manager of one of the top teams in England.”
Ancelotti confirmed Everton’s leading goalscorer, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, was close to following Mason Holgate in signing a new five-year contract. The manager, who also hopes to convince Leighton Baines to extend his Goodison career beyond this summer, said: “Holgate is going to be the future of this club. It’s important for him and for us to renew the contract, to have stability here with this player. We are close to Dominic Calvert-Lewin also and I hope he’s going to sign soon. The idea for the future is really clear for us. They are talking, they are very close, so soon he’s going to sign.”