Chelsea’s season is all but over, but it shouldn’t mean the end for Carlo Ancelotti

by Nicholas Godden

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

When Roman Abramovich turned up in West London in 2003 to buy Chelsea, the Blues’ fan were rubbing their hands together at the prospect of the Russian billionaire transforming their under-achieving club into a major European force. Despite bringing relative success on the pitch Abramovich also brings an emphatic state of uncertainty and instability, particularly to the man in the dugout. In eight years the Russian has presided over six different managers and history suggests that a trophy-less season will open a vacant post for number seven.

Defeat at Old Trafford last weekend all but signalled the end of Chelsea’s title challenge and the focus will now shift to next season. Abramovich has probably been scrutinizing Europe’s managerial talent-pool, and England’s if the rumours surrounding Harry Redknapp are to be believed, for several months already, but he need look no further than the very man he employed two years ago.

Carlo Ancelotti has a CV that could stand up against most of his counterparts on the continent and clearly possesses all the qualities needed to be a success at Chelsea. He did lead the club to a league and cup double in his debut season, remember? The Italian is a winner, he is well-respected by his players and loved by the fans.

Most significantly perhaps, Ancelotti knows what it takes to win the chalice that is the Champions League and with that comes the potential to satisfy Abramovich’s obsession. Only at Chelsea would Ancelotti’s position be at risk. Only one manager has failed to win the league and survive under Abramovich. That was a ‘special’ case though. Jose Mourinho. Incidentally the Portuguese was axed just weeks into the next season.

I can not help but feel a huge amount of sympathy for Ancelotti. What has he done wrong? His squad is aging, lacking strength in-depth and deprived of a creative spark. Several senior players were released last summer and not replaced, while other senior players have simply not performed.

He has regularly been undermined and left to deal with interference from above. Firstly, the removal of Ray Wilkins from his side, then later, the £50 million present that was reminiscent of the ugly sweater you didn’t want for Christmas but still felt compelled to wear. And yet, Ancelotti has had the strength of character to leave Fernando Torres on the bench, despite risking the wrath of Abramovich.

As the season appeared to be crumbling Ancelotti carried himself with admirable poise and humility amidst taunts of ‘dead man walking’. He rallied his troops and averted them from the abyss.

In February Chelsea found themselves 15 points from the summit and faced the disastrous, but very real possibility of dropping out of the top-four. As it was, Ancelotti came close to masterminding one of the greatest Premier League fight-backs, only to be denied by a superior United side. Something Ancelotti admitted with great dignity.

And so, Abramovich could search all summer, but I doubt he will find too many candidates worthy of dethroning the Italian general from his managerial position. Chelsea would do well to learn from Manchester United’s model and realise that stability breeds success.

You just never know with Mr. Abramovich. One thing is for certain though, Ancelotti would depart with his reputation untarnished. There is no shame in being dismissed by the impatient Russian.

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  • billy

    get David Moyes in on a 5 year contract and don’t break it. See what he does. You need to re build so why not get a manager in who knows the Premier League.

    Problem with Ambravich is he wants success, and he wants success now, by throwing millions at the club doesn’t mean it will happen over night. Can someone please tell him this

  • Adam

    As a Chelsea fan it has been a very frustrating season but that has been no fault of Ancelotti who has managed to withstand the sort of treatment that would make lesser men walk away.

    There aren’t many managers out there better than Ancelotti who are available but such is the impatient nature of Abramovich I am afraid that this may not deter the Russian from wielding the axe once again.

    Nevertheless, the rumours about Gianfranco Zola returning as a coach are quite encouraging as he would be the perfect assistant to Carlo, and knows as much if not more about the internal workings of Chelsea than Ray Wilkins, whose departure ultimately cost us the title this season.

    Of course I may be wrong but stability is desperately in order if Chelsea are to fulfil their ambitions of European dominance, and Carlo is the best man to help fulfil these at the moment.


    “There is no shame in being dismissed by the impatient Russian.”

    Oh yes there is: it means FAILURE.

    Whether we keep Ancellotti or replace him, I shall back the club’s decision.
    As for keeping with one manager, take a look at Arsenul!

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