Sunday, May 22, 2011

Chelsea Sack Ancelotti For Finishing Second and Line Up Hiddink, Van Basten to Replace Him

Chelsea FC have sacked their manager Carlo Ancelotti after Roman Abramovich deemed the clubs second placed finish in the English Premier League was not good enough. The Italian only joined the Blues last year and won the domestic double in his first season in charge but a trophy-less haul this term has seen him exit the club.

In leaving the club, Ancelotti has become the sixth manager to leave Chelsea in the last six years.

A club statement read: "This season's performances have fallen short of expectations and the club feels the time is right to make this change ahead of next season's preparations."
"Chelsea's long-term football objectives and ambitions remain unchanged and we will now be concentrating all our efforts on identifying a new manager."
Despite the success enjoyed by Ancelotti and the club last season, there have been substantial rumours doing the rounds for the last number of months that the Italian had to bring home either the Champions League or the Premier League trophy to retain his job.

In effect, Roman Abramovich made his manager a dead man walking to his own players. 

This was only the first part in what seemed like a concerted effort to undermine the manager at the club.

During the summer, Michael Ballack, Ricardo Carvalho, Juliano Belletti, Joe Cole, Miroslav Stoch, Deco, and Scott Sinclair were all allowed to leave as only Ramires and Yossi Benayoun came in. And when the Blues were faced with their first major injury crisis in years they did have the personnel to deal with the matter.

Without Frank Lampard, John Terry, Alex, and with  a severely unfit Didier Drogba in the team the Blues went on a run through November and December that saw them only pick up six points from a possible 24. This poor streak essentially lost them the title and Ancelotti his job.

It was during this period in November, that Ray Wilkins was sacked from his post as Assistant Manager. Again, Ancelotti was not consulted and it is worth knowing that before Wilkins' sacking, the Blues were four points clear at the top of the Premiership.

It was the manner of his sacking that sent the Chelsea dressing room spiralling out of control. Watching a reserve match with Ancelotti, Wilkins had to leave early and went inside for what he thought would be a brief meeting with their Chief Executive Ron Gourlay. 

Wilkins was unceremoniously sacked on the spot and was even told he was not allowed back out to the reserves to say goodbye. Within one hour, the England and Chelsea legend who made his d├ębut with the club at just 17 years of age had his biography wiped from the club website.

It was a callous and cold way to treat a person and within days Carlo Ancelotti was actively seeking advice from the League Managers Association as to his rights if they club were to try and remove him.

The problem with the Wilkins sacking was that Butch was on Ancelotti's team and that the Italian should have been consulted. Without this line of communication, a non-verbal communication was sent through the entire club that Ancelotti was just a number and that he was not important.

In January, facing elimination from the Champions League as well, Roman Abramovich signed two players without again consulting his manager. Fernando Torres and David Luiz were parachuted in as the club looked to eke out its final trophy but all the new signings did was throw Carlo Ancelotti's finely tuned tactical system to the winds.

He never fit into the Italian's preferred system and it was not until he actually came off against Manchester United in the Quarter Final of the Champions League that the Blues actually came into the game.

The harshness of the Ancelotti sacking can be seen in its full light when you realise that Chelsea came within three games of winning the Premier League this season.

Had the Blues beaten United on May 8 instead of the other way around, Chelsea have been in the driving seat with just games against Newcastle and Everton remaining. As it was United won comfortably, and with that loss, Ancelotti ultimately lost his job too.

The early favourites to take over the running at Chelsea are Guus Hiddink, Harry Redknapp, Andre Villa-Boas and Marco van Basten.

They are all very capable managers but the problem that Roman Abramovich has created by sacking six managers in six years is that most men now view Chelsea as little more than a short term cash cow, more so in the light of Ancelotti's dismissal especially given the level of success he enjoyed in his first year.

34-year-old Villa-Boas, fresh from winning the Europa League with Porto this week has already declared his intentions on Twitter to stay with the Portuguese champions for at least one more season. Hiddink, currently in charge of Turkey, is already on Chelsea's books as a consultant and will be available to take over the club towards the end of the summer should Abramovich come calling again.

While Harry Redknapp is viewed purely as a stop gap measure for just one season before he takes over from Fabio Capello as England manager after Euro 2012. Whether Redknapp is interested is anyone's guess, but Spurs are already believed to be preparing for his departure next year.

Marco van Basten is the enigma in this equation, and all the early signs point to a coaching partnership of him and Hiddink taking over the club in July.

It will be interesting to see which direction Abramovich decides to choose because almost every manager will want substantial funding to rebuild the flagging Blues squad.

The season has only ended a couple of hours, and already we have one of the biggest stories of the close season on our door steps. 

The Chinese have a proverb except for Chelsea it seems to be a curse. 

It says; "May you live in interesting times..."

Things are never less than interesting where Roman Abramovich is concerned.