Chelsea fans will be forgiven for feeling sentimental tomorrow night when Jose Mourinho returns to Stamford Bridge for the first time. The London club have not won the Premier League title since they parted company with "the Special One" in September 2007, despite challenging well each season. But Carlo Ancelotti has the club well placed this season - they are two points behind Manchester United at the top of the league with a game in hand.
The Italian manager is sure Mourinho will get warm reception when he brings Inter Milan to Stamford Bridge for their Champions League last-16 tie, but the niceties will end once the game kicks off. Inter hold a 2-1 lead ahead of the second leg of their clash and Mourinho is likely to get a hero's welcome from the fans who watched him guide their club to successive Premier League titles, FA Cup and Carling Cup triumphs.
But Ancelotti, who was coach at Inter's city rivals AC last season and continues to play down the feud with Mourinho during their time as opponents in the San Siro, said: "Before the game Mourinho will have a very good reception but after that Chelsea fans are Chelsea fans. I don't have a problem with Mourinho. I have never had a problem with him." Ancelotti has won the Champions League twice and Mourinho once - with Porto - but the Italian is determined not to hype tomorrow's contest into a clash between the two coaches.
"There is no advantage because it's a game between Chelsea and Inter, not me against Mourinho," he added. "It's a game that will be a fantastic one. We want to show our best. I think if Chelsea play at their best we win. I'm excited because it's a fantastic game. All the world will look at this game and this is a very good motivation for me. It is my favourite competition. "For Chelsea it is important, but so is the championship. It is important to stay calm. These are the games that put a lot of pressure on us. We have to have good control of this pressure because this is the right way to play well."
* With agencies