Two months ago Chelsea were dead and buried scrapping to qualify for Champions League football. One of the most remarkable things was, that although he was the bookies favourite to lose his job Carlo Ancelotti somehow avoided the chop from the Russian oligarch famous for his long pockets and short patience.
Whether he was distracted jetting around the world brokering dodgy oil deals or whether he had just grown weary of sacking people, Abramovich, it seems, has given Carlo a second chance. His reward has been eight wins out of nine in the premiership and a gap of 15 points closing to just three. You would hope that this will help Abramovich see that sometimes stability and consistency go hand in hand and that knee jerk sackings are rarely a beneficial tactic, as he witnessed after mercilessly giving loyal soldier Ray Wilkins the elbow, but the bookies aren’t convinced. Ancelotti remarkably still sits up there with other regular favourites for the chop like Steve Keen, Gerard Houllier and Avram Grant (how they would love to have won 8 of their last 9 games).
With a massive game approaching on Sunday this is potentially Ancelotti’s chance to either keep or lose his job, although even a win would not see Chelsea firmly in the Premiership driving seat. I for one do not feel that the outcome of this match or indeed the season should be the defining factor. He has already won the double with an aging Chelsea team and with only a fraction of other Chelsea manager’s spend. At the beginning of the season Chelsea were running away with the league, but a combination of a small squad, key injuries and a simultaneous dip in the form of the team lead to a confidence crisis and an unthinkable run of results which saw Chelsea plummet into 5th place in the league. Ancelotti had not started doing anything different, he was just suffering from a threadbare squad and the snowball effect of bad results.
This leads me to the extraordinary fact that Ancelotti kept his job working for footballs toughest boss. Or are we not giving Abramovich enough respect as far as his decision-making is concerned. There is an assumption that Abramovich doesn’t know anything about football, incorrect. He may not be Kenny Dalglish or Alex Ferguson but he probably knows as much as me or you, he watches every game and is clearly obsessed with the beautiful game. So from this we can assume his decisions are based on football as well as business. I do not think it is any great surprise that he and Mourinho fell out and could no longer work together, there is probably not room in Stamford Bridge for both their egos, let alone in his office. Avram Grant’s record speaks for itself, and Luis Scolari has admitted in an interview recently that he could not handle the big personalities at Chelsea and that he was blocked by Abramovich from signing Brazil’s very own Gazza, Adriano – a lucky escape I think you’ll agree. So in summary he may be quick to fire but it seems somewhat justified on the most part and after all Chelsea are now a massive force in World football, so he can’t be doing such a bad job at the helm.
This is why I think, and hope, that Ancelotti may not be the dead man walking that everyone, especially the media, seems to think. He clearly has the support of the players and has even kept super diva Didier Drogba in check. He already has Silverware under his belt and made history with Chelsea’s first ever double. If Abramovich was going to sack him surely he would have already done it, and maybe just maybe like all good businessmen he is learning his lessons and steadying the ship for an assault on all fronts next season. Finally Carlo has got Chelsea playing good football again, whilst our results over performance attitude of late has seen less flair, more muscle and more points, overall he has created an exciting high scoring team.
What I think should also be applauded is the manner in which Ancelotti has conducted himself and steadily dragged Chelsea out of the mire. He has not panicked, nor added fuel to the media’s already roaring fire. He even refrained from commenting when his number two was pulled from him with the speed of a magician removing a table cloth. Recently Andy Townsend suggested that Carlo Ancelotti might actually walk at the end of the season because of the way he has been treated, mainly in reference to the Wilkins sacking, but I would argue that he knew what he was getting himself into when he took the job. Chelsea is a tough job but one of only a handful in the world where you have a genuine chance every season of winning silverware. Ancelotti falls into the category of being one of only a handful of managers in the world to have won domestic league and Champions League trophies, so it seems a match made in heaven.
I, like many Chelsea fans I speak to, do not want to see Ancelotti sacked, or to walk away from the job. I think Chelsea need stability and I want to be proud of the unity and spirit going throughout the club with a manager a part of it, not just waiting for the call from the big man. It is quite simple, if you look at the Manchester United model of stability with one man at the helm. It breeds long term success and means that the same manager is learning each year from his mistakes – I hope Ancelotti can be that man for Chelsea and maybe just maybe we can dominate for the next 20 years. Top managers are expected to win the league or cup every year, but only one team can. So does this mean that all the others have failed or have they just not succeeded in as stronger fashion as their compatriot? Ferguson may have failed to win the league last season but in the long run he is well up on the competition.
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