Carlo Ancelotti says he is "not afraid" of the consequences should Chelsea be knocked out of the Champions League at Manchester United tomorrow evening and reiterated his conviction that his prospects of seeing out the final year of his contract are not dependent on winning the tournament.
Chelsea trail to Wayne Rooney's solitary goal from the first leg of the quarter-final and Ancelotti is considering how to get the best out of Fernando Torres, scoreless in 10 appearances since his £50m move in January. The Italian may revert to the 4-3-3 system with which his side won at United en route to claiming the Premier League title last season, which would most likely see Didier Drogba initially confined to the bench. He will hold his pre-match team meeting on Tuesday morning and detail his selection to his players then.
Ancelotti has long said he is happy at Stamford Bridge and eager to remain at the club for the foreseeable future, though a trophyless season – particularly given Chelsea's mid-season toils in the defence of their domestic title – would damage his standing there. Previous managers have been given less leeway than he has enjoyed, though he remains defiant and apparently assured that he will be able to see out the final 12 months of his current deal at least.
Asked whether he would expect to lose his job should Chelsea exit the Champions League, Ancelotti said: "I think that a lot of times I have played this kind of game in my career with this pressure. But it's not pressure. It's excitement. To be involved in this game is fantastic for my job, for my career. So I'm not afraid. I'm not worried about this. I'm happy to have a possibility to be involved in this game, to use my ability and my skill to give to the players the skills to play at their best. As for my future, that is already decided. I don't have a problem about this game."
That was a reference to the remaining time on his deal at the club, with a defiant Ancelotti adding that he had not felt compelled to seek assurances from the owner, Roman Abramovich – who attended the first-leg defeat by United and Saturday's narrow victory over Wigan – over his future. "It's not important that I have to speak with Roman," he said. "When I have a contract, everything is OK with him."
Little has gone right for Torres, whose personal goal drought stands at 648 minutes for Chelsea, though the Spaniard is expected to start tomorrow having played only a little over half an hour against Wigan on Saturday.
Drogba, who played all of that win, appears most likely to give way, with the management considering reverting to a trident attack with Torres flanked by Florent Malouda and Nicolas Anelka. Chelsea won 2-1 at Old Trafford last term – they are the last visiting team to prevail there, albeit a little over a year ago – and a repeat result would see them through.
Ancelotti confirmed that Torres would play some part and insisted there was no pressure on the British record transfer to break his duck in such a key contest. "He's searching for a goal, but our aim is that he plays for the squad, moves well for the team, and works for his team-mates," said the manager. "I never ask my strikers [just] to score goals. If he scores it's good for him and for Chelsea, but I'm just interested in the performance of Chelsea. We will try to do something special.
"We know we have to win. But we also know that we have 90 minutes in which to do that. We don't have to put strong pressure [on United] from the beginning. We need to have time to play our football and to score. We have to play with balance because United, on the counterattack, after very dangerous. [Wayne] Rooney is their most dangerous player, and we have to do better against him that we did in the last game. But we won't change our shape, our mentality, our philosophy just to control Rooney. We want to play our football at the best level we can.
"Chelsea, in the past, were disappointed to lose results in this competition, and the final on penalties [in 2008 to United], but that memory could be a good motivation for everyone. This may be a chance to replace those memories with better ones. Every one of us, Roman included, hopes that everything will be OK in this game."