Jose Mourinho’s return to Stamford Bridge will not be a distraction for Chelsea’s players, according to Blues boss Carlo Ancelotti.
Mourinho will be back at his old stamping ground for the first since he was sacked by the club in September 2007 as Inter Milan meet the Blues in the Champions League.
Inter have a 2-1 lead from the opening leg of the last-16 tie in the San Siro but Ancelotti is confident there will be no divided loyalties among a squad that was largely constructed by the self-appointed ‘Special One’.
“I’m sure they’re not distracted by his return,” said Ancelotti.
“For Mourinho, it’ll be a special evening. The fans will give him a very good reception, one he deserves.
“But the match will be another thing. The players are not involved in other things.
“All the Chelsea players and Inter players are focused on the game, an important game. The other things they’re not interested in.
“I hope there will be a third English club in the quarter-finals.
“Arsenal and Manchester United did a good job. Now we have to do the same tomorrow.”
Chelsea’s goalkeeping crisis remains acute with Ross Turnbull set to play only the second Champions League game of his career.
Turnbull, who made his league debut for the club in Saturday’s 4-1 demolition of West Ham, will play against Inter due to Petr Cech’s calf injury and Hilario’s groin problem.
The former Middlesbrough goalkeeper’s only previous experience of Champions League football was the 2-2 home draw with Cypriot side APOEL Nicosia in the group stage.
Inter will arrive in London having suffered a shock 3-1 defeat by Catania in Serie A at the weekend. The loss allowed Ancelotti’s old club, AC Milan, to cut the gap at the top of the Italian league to one point.
But in the 18 months since Mourinho arrived, Inter have never lost two successive games.
Looking almost nervous ahead of the clash, Mourinho denied it would special for him to knock Chelsea out.
“Special for me would be to take Inter over the barrier and into the quarter-finals,” said Mourinho.
“Inter lost, if I remember right, in the last years to Villarreal, Valencia, Liverpool, Manchester United last season.
“So it would be special for me to take my team into the next stage. But special to beat Chelsea? No, it would not be special.
“It means I will go to the quarter-finals. That is all. I have nothing to prove to Chelsea, to Chelsea’s players, to Chelsea’s fans, to Chelsea’s board. The relations are great.”
It was clear by Mourinho’s demeanour that it meant a great deal to him to be back at the club where he won every domestic honour. Emotion was contained within every strain of his vocal chords.
When asked if it was a new Mourinho by showing so much respect and not stirring things up ahead of the game, he replied: “I can’t do this in Chelsea. I can’t do this. My celebrations will be restrained if we win out of respect.
“Because it’s Chelsea. Because it’s the team where I worked for three and a half years, the same people, the same players, the same supporters who made me feel incredible every time we played in this stadium.
“But don’t confuse this emotional control with professionalism. Don’t confuse this emotional control with a desire to win.
“Tomorrow, during the 90 minutes, I will give everything to try and help my team win. Players win matches on the pitch. Coaches just try and give a bit of help.
“I’ll try and do that. But don’t confuse my feelings for my ex-players and my ex-club with my desire and motivation to win this game.” (ESPN/MG/rex)