The dye has been cast and for all intents and purposes Carlo Ancelotti looks like he’ll be handing in his P45 in the summer. While the case for dismissing Ancelotti has grown over the course of the season, the defence for keeping him in charge at Stamford Bridge for at least one more year is a compelling one to say the least.
Chelsea Chairman Roman Abramovich has previous when it comes to dismissing managers. Every manager that has failed to win the league, whether interim or not, that has managed the club under the Russian oligarch has found himself out on his ear by the end of the season. For a club the size of Chelsea, this is a recklessly short-term approach to running a football club and one that won’t serve them well going forward.
Ancelotti performed miracles in his first season at Stamford Bridge. He won both the title and the FA Cup while playing attractive, attacking football. No mean feat under such a hard task master. Yet the man responsible for placing Chelsea at the Premier League’s top table over the past 7 years – Abramovich – also appears to be the one man truly holding the club back from reaching it’s true potential.
The side that Ancelotti inherited, was by and large the one formed by Jose Mourinho. No other manager has been backed to quite the same extent since and there was a noticeable reigning in of spending in the preceding years since the Special One‘s acrimonious departure from West London. As a result, Chelsea have added little by little to their ever-ageing squad, whereas what is required now is an overhaul of sorts.
When Ancelotti only added Ramiers and Benayoun in the summer, a few eyebrows were raised at the lack of experience around the Chelsea dressing room. The likes of Michael Ballack, Deco, Juliano Belletti and Joe Cole were all seasoned pros accustomed to the success and the pressures that come with the business end of a long campaign. The dressing room was experienced, wise and undoubtedly boasted a winning mentality.
An unfair amount of pressure was heaped on the new arrivals, the young squad members asked to make the step up as well as the existing first-team squad members at the beginning of this season. Many commented on the lack of squad depth that Chelsea had at their disposal going into this season and so it has prophetically proved to be their undoing as injuries to key players saw a barren run of form around the festive period.
A conscious effort was made to integrate youth into the Chelsea first-team this season. While they may be a talented bunch, they are not ready for the demands that a title chasing side have to contend with. Chelsea have long sought after converting themselves into a self-sufficient business model, a club that has slowly weaned itself off it’s mother’s teat if you will, but from the evidence of this season at least, more investment is needed before that is possible.
To castigate Ancelotti for doing his best under the very same constrictions that the Chairman placed upon him in the first place would be a very harsh indeed. Ancelotti has adapted brilliantly to the English game and he should be allowed sufficient time and money to stamp his own mark upon this current Chelsea side.
Entrusting the current project at Stamford Bridge to someone else without the requisite credentials would be a fools error. None of the touted replacements could do a better job than Ancelotti under the circumstances. He is still the best man for the job and there are few better coaches currently operating in the European game.
Chelsea currently sit top of the Premier League form table which has seen them collect 29 points out of a possible 36 in the last twelve games. They went from being definitely out of the title race, possibly even in danger of dropping out of Champions League qualification reckoning, to only needing a win at Old Trafford to all but secure an unlikely second title on the bounce. Credit must go to Ancelotti for fostering a winning attitude under such adverse circumstances.
The crux of the issue is that there is no manager more equipped to take the role than Ancelotti at present. Hiddink has been mentioned after a hugely successful spell as caretaker prior to the Ancelotti’s appointment, but the Dutchman seems reluctant to break his contract with Turkey and commit to a full-time, day-to-day coaching role at the moment.
Ancelotti is familiar with working with ageing squads and over-bearing Chairman from his time at AC Milan. Stability breeds success. It’s as simple as that. Chopping and changing the manager every season that you don’t win the league is quite frankly a childish way to operate a Premier League football club.
There are dark marks against Ancelotti during his time at Chelsea, namely his failure to fully integrate Fernando Torres into his starting eleven. Yet the Italian has done a fantastic job with a squad largely not of his own making. He’s added a degree of style to a powerful Chelsea outfit and with significant backing in the summer, the much-needed guile that the current side desperately require could go a long way to making them title favourites once more next season.
Sacking Ancelotti after one trophyless season would be a grave mistake on Abramovich’s part and he may yet come to regret not entrusting the Italian with the resources to build a new Chelsea dynasty.
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