Signing Fernando Torres will get Ancelotti the sack

by Willie Gannon

Chelsea FC pulled off one of the biggest transfers of all time recently, when they took Fernando Torres from Liverpool for £50 million. The move was seen by many as Roman Abramovich flexing his financial might to not only get the Pensioners back in the title race but also as a way of bringing the Champions League to Stamford Bridge.

However, while that may have been the Russian Oligarch’s main aim, what he has achieved is a further erosion of the fragile foundation under Carlo Ancelotti’s feet.

As the league table stands, Chelsea has 44 points and is a full 10 points behind the leaders, Manchester United, with just 13 games to go. Considering that the Red Devils have only lost one game from the previous 25, it looks highly unlikely that Alex Ferguson would allow his team to lose four games from their remaining fixtures to leave the Blues with a chance at retaining their title.

This, of course, means that Chelsea’s only real aim for the rest of the season is the trophy that Roman Abramovich craves so much…the Champions League.

Last season, as Chelsea was eliminated from the Champions League by Jose Mourinho and Inter Milan, an incandescent Roman Abramovich issued Carlo Ancelotti with an ultimatum. Win the league, or else.

At the time, a Chelsea insider told ESPN “[Ancelotti's future] now depends on the league. He will need to win the league to survive.”

So, it is not beyond the realms of imagination to think that the Chelsea owner has issued a similar demand about the Champions League this time around.

The insider also told Soccernet that Abramovich wanted to bring Fernando Torres to the club next season, despite other areas of the team needing renewal.

“Of course Roman wants Torres, but he will not pay even £50 million for him, and Liverpool will be asking more than that.”

“If the situation stays the same at Liverpool then they will have to consider selling Torres, but you will not be able to get him for £50 million. How much? No one knows yet, as Liverpool has yet to decide to sell him.”

Just last week, Roman Abramovich fulfilled one of his footballing ambitions when he bought the services of Fernando Torres for the £50 million mentioned last March.

With that, there are a number of things to be taken from the purchase of the Spanish striker.

The foremost is Torres was an Abramovich signing, and Carlo Ancelotti was not consulted on the addition of another striker. With that in mind, you can see how Abramovich sees himself as the manager of the club and that Ancelotti is little more than a coach with no say in the matter.

If Ancelotti had been consulted, then he would surely have looked at bringing some much needed creativity into midfield. This is an area where Chelsea are weakest, as the defeat to Liverpool showed.

The Reds used an unconventional 3-6-1 or 5-3-1-1, depending upon your point of view, to stifle Chelsea’s powerhouse midfield and with the Blues lack of creativity, Kenny Dalglish’s side basically strangled the life out of the defending champions.

The Liverpool defeat, albeit with Torres on the team, demonstrated all the main reasons Chelsea’s season has come undone and why they will most probably finish the season trophyless.

They are an incredibly cohesive unit and every move has the look of being a well-worked training ground set piece. If those do not work, they lack a creative player who can find teammates in dangerous areas of the pitch.

While the Pensioners midfield is their greatest asset, it is also a liability against teams that are well organised and who, most importantly, pack midfield.

It speaks volumes that Liverpool’s caretaker manager chose to take Chelsea on where they are physically strongest, because he was full in the knowledge that once that area of the pitch was won, Chelsea had no other routes to victory.

In essence, the supply lines to Drogba and Torres were cut off completely.

Even if Carlo Ancelotti had acted quicker to bring on Malouda and Kalou, the game was up, as both of the players mentioned are wide forwards rather than wide midfielders. Thus, the personnel up front would make no difference to the outcome of the game, as midfield was where the game needed to be changed.

This immediately points to the two areas Ancelotti would have strengthened before even looking at bringing in another centre forward, particularly one with such a poor track record at finding a partner, Namely, Chelsea needs a creative central midfielder and a wide midfielder.

The defeat to Liverpool effectively ended Chelsea’s slim title hopes and now, Carlo Ancelotti’s job is dependent upon winning the Champions League.

The Italian can rightly feel aggrieved with Abramovich. Even though he has done a superb job since joining the club from AC Milan and winning the double in his first year, that hasn’t stopped Abramovich from seemingly undermining his head coach at every opportunity.

The first example was last March, when he told Ancelotti he would be sacked if he did not deliver the league title. This effectively sent the message out to the players that anything less than a 100 percent success rate and they would have a new boss. Every player worth his salt knows that this demand is impossible over the fullness of time.

The next step was the disgraceful sacking of Ray Wilkins.

Regardless of what Wilkins’ role was at the club and whether Abramovich thought he was needed or not, Wilkins was Ancelotti’s man. By unceremoniously sacking him in the manner he did, Abramovich sent another two messages out to the team.

  1. Roman Abramovich is the main man at Chelsea. Not Carlo Ancelotti.
  2. Ancelotti is in an uncertain position and is not important enough to consult on the team’s direction, nevermind the club’s direction.

Shortly after Wilkins’ removal, Ancelotti was inflicted with Michael Emanalo, a coach with very little experience of football at the highest level.

His installation as Ancelotti’s right-hand man is seen with distrust by all involved in the first team set up. Emanalo is seen as being little more than a spy for Roman Abramovich and Ancelotti has done his best to distance himself from the new appointee.

This also means Ancelotti is now completely alone at Stamford Bridge, with no one to turn to for advice or to brainstorm with.

It is in this atmosphere that Carlo Ancelotti approached the League Managers Association in late November, to seek advice on his standing and employment rights at Chelsea.

He spoke on the matter and offered a frank opinion on where he stands at the club and how his role is completely different than the one enjoyed by Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United.

He said, “You compare me with Ferguson, it’s a different position. Ferguson has total control of the team. I have just technical direction. Full-stop.”

This was a clear indication that Ancelotti has no say or power at the club and that every signing is chosen for him, regardless of how he feels about the matter.

Now, the latest step in the constant disruption of Carlo Ancelotti has seen Roman Abramovich buy Fernando Torres.

There can be little doubt that the Chelsea manager would not have chosen Fernando Torres as a player to bring in. The ex-Liverpool striker has a fearsome reputation in front of goal, but his link-up play outside the box is average and his past history has shown that he is a striker who plays best by himself in a counter-attacking team where he can come onto the ball rather than play with his back to goal.

If anything, Ancelotti would have tried to buy Andy Carroll, as the ex-Newcastle No. 9 is as close a player to a young Didier Drogba as you’re going to find. He would have fit in at Chelsea seamlessly.

It is clear for all to see that Carlo Ancelotti is living on borrowed time at Chelsea. The ironic twist in all of this is that the latest erosion, Torres, is also the only man who can save his job.

Given Chelsea’s and Torres’ form over the last couple of months, it seems highly unlikely that things will click together in time to win Ancelotti and Abramovich the Champions League.

First up is FC Copenhagen in two weeks time. The Danish club are seen by many as the weakest team in the Last 16, but the short time frame leaves Ancelotti struggling for answers.

The likeliest result is that Chelsea will beat FC Copenhagen, with or without Fernando Torres. However, the real test of the new partnership with Drogba and Anelka is likely to happen in April in the quarter finals, just eight games away.

To go any further, the Blues will be hoping for another good draw. But considering that the waiting teams are likely to include Barcelona, Real Madrid and Manchester United, amongst others, their chances won’t be good.

Looking at their current form and the type of player that Torres is, it is very hard to see that particular partnership working and it looks increasingly likely that Chelsea will not win the Champions League this year.

Should that happen, Roman Abramovich is almost certain to send Carlo Ancelotti back to Italy, with AS Roma as his likeliest destination.

The irony for Carlo Ancelotti is that the last signing by Roman Abramovich, Fernando Torres, said, “If you don’t play in the Champions League it is as if you don’t exist.”

He’ll find that as far as Abramovich is concerned, that quote is very true indeed.

21 Responses

  1. MarcCFCinBKK says:

    stop being bitter; torres wiil(u know)come good and so things silver and gold will happen; he’s chelsea now…………………..deal with it, get over and move on x

    1. Willie Gannon Willie Gannon says:

      Hardly bitter Marc, it makes no difference to me who Torres signs for.

      Thanks for the kiss by the way.

  2. Sir cecil says:

    The writer’s most pertinent line is “so it is not beyond the realms of imagination to think…”
    His whole article is down to his imagination and is full of nonsense. He talks of what Abramovich is thinking but has never read an interview or a single comment made by the owner. Never. So he makes things up. Like…
    “Wilkins was Ancelotti’s man”. Utter drivel of course. Wilkins was bought in not as a coach, but as someone to help the non-English speaking Scolari settle in and act as a spokesman/player liaison. He was kept on to similarly assist Hiddink. When Ancelotti arrived, Chelsea similarly honoured Wilkins’ contract and allowed him to perform the same function. HE WAS NEVER A GENUINE COACH at the club. Once Ancelotti had settled in, there was no longer a function for Wilkins to perform, so his contract was not renewed and he was paid off the last few weeks of it. Simple. No mystery. Only idiots believe the tripe written about this episode. Wilkins is a proven failure at coaching and his function at Chelsea was not coaching – it was general helper.
    The rest of the article is a nonsense of make-believe too. He knows ZERO about whether Ancelotti was consulted about Torres. Why, this scribbler of fiction even deduces from his non-existent evidence hat Ancelotti would have preferred… Andy Carroll. Laughable!
    As or Ancelotti describing his role as different to Ferguson’s, that’s as much news as Nelson being killed at Trafalgar. Chelsea works along the lines of many european clubs, with the coach coaching and not involved in day-to-day transfer business. That’s not to say he is dictated to, only that he might not know the current state of negotiations on a daily basis. He says who he wants and gets on with his job while others have the responsibility of doing the deals. That’s the context of the answer he gave about Ferguson. Nothing there at all to suggest he is hamstrung when it comes to choosing players or rejecting them.
    I could go on, but the foolish writer of the article deserves no more of my time.
    The trouble with the Internet is that it gives a voice to writers of rubbish.

    1. FootyFan says:

      Read an interview with Wilkins wherein he said he and Ancelotti were and still are very close friends. He went on to say that they still frequently have dinner together. Sounds to me like he was doing more than helping Ancelotti ” settle in”.

      1. Sir cecil says:

        I’m sure Ancelotti has dinner frequently with plenty of friends. I’m sure none of them are required to be a “right hand man” to qualify for a plateful of pasta together.

    2. Willie Gannon Willie Gannon says:

      Think you’ve missed the point of “Wilkins was Ancelotti’s man” Cecil.

      It doesn’t matter who employed Wilkins in the first place or what his role at the club was, be he a cone placer or first team coach or tea lady.

      The thing is, he was there because Ancelotti wanted him there. In short he was on Ancelotti’s staff and Abramovich overstepped the bounds by sacking him.

  3. Sir cecil says:

    This is the best of all:

    “Ancelotti was inflicted with Michael Emanalo, a coach with very little experience of football at the highest level.

    His installation as Ancelotti’s right-hand man is seen with distrust by all involved in the first team set up. Emanalo is seen as being little more than a spy for Roman Abramovich and Ancelotti has done his best to distance himself from the new appointee.

    This also means Ancelotti is now completely alone at Stamford Bridge, with no one to turn to for advice or to brainstorm with”.

    Of course, the writer has no idea whatsoever as to the job function of Emanalo, or how Ancelotti perceives him. So he makes things up again. Who has said Emanalo is Ancelotti’s right hand man? Did the writer make any attempt to speak with Mr. Emanalo, so he could write something approaching informed comment? Did he ask Mr. Ancelotti about Mr. Emanalo’s role? Indeed, did the writer speak to anyone at Chelsea about what he is writing about? Isn’t that what journalists are supposed to do – namely, some research? Obviously, the only research the writer does is via what has already been scribbled in the unsubstantiated gossip of The Sun or The Mirror or some such rag. It’s all simply a regurgitation of stuff that was never real in the first place and perpetuated by those who really have nothing new or informative to write about. So they re-write the tabloid nonsense with their own name attached and supposedly draw conclusions they wish us to believe are of value. Well, they aren’t and it’s a pity there are people out there whose gullibility encourages such writers to believe there is a market for such worthless, unsubstantiated dross disguised as fact.

    1. Willie Gannon Willie Gannon says:

      Obviously the article did deserve a little more of your time. Cheers.

      Mr Emanalo is “the Assistant First Team Coach” and is therefore the No.2 Coach at the club and was inflicted upon Ancelotti by Abramovich after Wilkins was sacked.

  4. fxr says:

    sorry but lol@sircecil (no further comment )

    1. Anon says:

      @FXR. Agreed!! ;-)

  5. Owen Watson says:

    I can’t really comment on the behind the scenes politics of how the club is being run, but in terms of tactics there has been a definite shift at Chelsea.

    Last season, when Ancelotti was struggling he shifted to a 4-3-3 and started to take the league by storm. This season, he’s reverted to his diamond when he knows Chelsea are essentially out of the title race.

    Clearly, Ancelotti has set his sights on the Champions League & believes the diamond is the best formation to achieve success with the team that he has. Only time will tell whether he was right to do so, it was absolutely devastating against Sunderland when he deployed Kalou in an attacking role (his pace and movement added a dimension to the diamond) but wasn’t as effective against Liverpool.

    The question is, how many teams are left in the Champions League that will play like Liverpool? Not that many really…so to me, it looks like a calculated gamble. They’ll struggle in the league, but the more games they play in the formation the more familiar they’ll get with it.

    It wouldn’t surprise me if Chelsea went all the way this season, or at least got very close.

    The only risk is that they don’t adapt quickly enough in the league and miss out on 4th place. But then, if he wins the Champions League that won’t matter!!

    1. Willie Gannon Willie Gannon says:

      I think they tried 4-3-3 but injuries caught up with them Owen.

      My guess is that Torres won’t be able to fit in before the Champions League QF or SF and that if the Blues are knocked out then Carlo will get the sack.

      1. Owen says:

        They’ve got the players to do the 4-3-3 still at the moment…Kalou & Malouda can fill the flanks, obviously he has played Anelka from the right as well even though that’s not a natural fit.

        My view is that although it’s partially injury influenced it’s more a tactical decision to play like that.

        You’ve also got to consider who he’s lining up as a replacement…Hiddink has said he’s “too old” hasn’t he? Who’s the successor? Jose? ;)

  6. Hutch says:

    Agree with several comments above that this Drivel is about as close to journalism as I am. Have, unfortunately, blacklisted this blog now based on this one very poorly written article.

    1. Neil Sherwin Neil Sherwin says:

      Disappointing that you would let one article out of over 1100 cloud your opinion like that.

    2. Willie Gannon Willie Gannon says:

      I’m sorry you feel that way Hutch, this website has produced many fine thought provoking articles that often run against the grain but stand up in the fullness of time.

      Just because you don’t agree with one view is a poor reason to stop reading what is considered by many as being one of the best football websites around.

      If every article that was ever written conformed with general opinion then very little would be worth reading in the first place.

  7. E says:

    I’m really enjoying the Chelsea fans insisting Torres will come good, somehow, and that will magically mean trophies, somehow. Liverpool fans have been trying to excuse Torres for a year and a half, and there has been no apparent end to his malaise in sight despite the move, so you’d better be ready to wait. Regardless, Chelsea’s current and waiting problems stretch beyond Fernando Torres.

    1. Willie Gannon Willie Gannon says:

      I think he will come good again someday E, I just don’t think it’ll be this year.

  8. Josh says:

    You paint a very worrying picture for a Chelsea fan (as I am). As somebody who tries to stay as unbiased and level headed as I can with football, i do agree with some of your points, in particular the Wilkins fiasco.

    However, i’m not sure if its a little premature to be predicting Ancelotti’s doom. Scolari was sacked during a similar bad patch, yet Ancelotti seems to have ridden through the worst of the media storm. Also, I’m inclined to believe a coach of his calibre who has already won trophies for the club would be given a bit more recovery time. I know Abramovich requires the club to be challenging for everything year in year out, but surely it would be misguided to believe an entire season falls to Torres?

    Yes, he is in terrible form, and I do fear we have the potential for another Shevchenko on our hands, but remember, he is player with top level Premiership experience already. And at only 26, there is more than enough time to find the world class ability which he undoubtedly still possesses. Will Torres come good in the next couple of months? Probably not enough to impact this year’s hunt for silverware. Next season? I wouldn’t bet against it….

    1. Willie Gannon Willie Gannon says:

      Hi Josh,

      You make a great point about Ancelotti, the current run and Scolari, but Chelsea were doing even better last year when Abramovich put the gun to Ancelotti’s head and threatened him with the sack if they didn’t win the EPL.

      That’s gone this year for sure and I just can’t see the teams form or Torres’ form picking up for them to win the Champions League. Which I think will lead to Carlo’s demise.

      But you’re definitely right to point at Torres as a player, I think the Blues could see the best of him next year after a well deserved summer rest.

      His first in 4 years if I’m correct.

  9. Ad says:

    Torres will come good, I am sure of it.

    At present, Chelsea are going through a bit of a rough patch. They’re a stubborn bunch and Torres is too good to continue his goal-shy form.

    In weeks to come he will be banging them in and everyone will be talking about how ‘cheap’ £50million is. It’s how football works. It’s all part of the cycle.

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