In the midst of all the anger and disgust in the manner in which Carlo Ancelotti was sacked, it’s about time we looked underneath the surface and see what may be the reasons behind his sacking.
It was hardly a surprising sacking, even though everybody wanted him to see out his contract, deep down this was what everyone had feared, albeit the manner did shock everyone.
So let’s recap how the season unfolded and the moments which really damaged Carlo Ancelotti.
Firstly, we should go back to last season and go the Inter Milan game. Over the two legs of the last 16 match there were serious question marks over Carlo Ancelotti’s tactical awareness, when he wasn’t able to change the team to get the right results, but a brilliant run over the next two months made people forget about it, or at least put this to the back burner as Chelsea created history and won our first league and cup double.
After many changes during the summer, mostly departures it must be added, Chelsea started in confident manner, starting from where they left off last season as they scored 12 in the first two games, and staying top of the league with only one defeat for the first two or so months.
The away defeat to Liverpool is where it all started to go wrong for Chelsea, despite winning the next game against Fulham; the Blues went almost two months without a win, a shocking run by any standards.
The sacking of Ray Wilkins after the Fulham game was initially blamed for this torrid run of form, but a departure of one man could hardly be an excuse for two months of underperformance by a group of professionals. The injuries to key players, including Frank Lampard and Alex, plus playing a malaria stricken Didier Drogba for most part of this period probably wasn’t the best of ideas, but it could be argued that Carlo didn’t really have any choice.
This is where his bold statements, probably towing the club line at the start of the season that some of the younger players were ready to take their places in the first team came back to haunt him. Carlo Ancelotti didn’t really have the confidence in the younger generation and continued to play the under-performing and most probably half-fit senior players in the team.
At the start of January, Chelsea had slipped to fifth place in the league and qualification for Champions League was now a matter of urgent concern, a far cry from the title winning ambitions of a few months ago, and one can imagine that the trigger happy owner wouldn’t have taken this very easily.
An indication of how he took this was soon on display, as the concern about missing out on Europe led him to open his cheque book and splash the cash on Fernando Torres and David Luiz, a staggering £75m worth of it for that matter.
The signings which were suppose to be the catalyst for a revival, proved to be the undoing of what was turning out to be a changing of the ‘moment’ if Carlo was to be quoted.
A £50m striker who wasn’t having the best of the seasons was drafted straight into the starting line-up. At the time when it looked like the team had turned the corner, probably a gradual inclusion of the Spaniard would have been the best idea, both for him and the team, although we would never get to know whether the decision to include him straightaway was forced upon him or not.
Fernando Torres inclusion meant that the team’s formation had to change, but with Spaniard horribly out of form and taking longer than expected to gel into the team meant that the little momentum which was being previously built after back-to-back wins in January was now lost.
The next few months constantly revolved around the uncertainty at the club, be it be the future of Carlo Ancelotti or the uncertainty regarding the best possible line-up and formation.
Even though we started to put a run together, the fact that we were so far behind the leaders in the league meant that it would have needed much more than a run which was riddled with the uncertainty to over come Manchester United.
A round of 16 meeting with FC Copenhagen proved to be a relatively easy passage and Manchester United waited in the quarterfinals for the Blues.
Chelsea had beaten Manchester United at home in March, so went into the games with high hopes, but those hopes never materialised, as a home defeat, followed by another unconvincing performance at Old Trafford meant that success in Europe had once again eluded us.
The problem with the two defeats was that it never looked like that we were going to beat United, they always looked in control. No certainty about the system or the starting line-up gave a feeling of unpreparedness and a lack of belief.
Notwithstanding the European exit, the team was still able to get the results in the league, and had a good run as we accumulated 25 out of 27 points over March and April, meaning that we still had an outside chance for the title.
With Arsenal’s fall from grace repeating its annual show, the second place was up for grabs and so was achieved as well.
As the results went, it all came down to a remarkable showdown with Manchester United for the title at Old Trafford, but once again the Blues failed to deliver on the big occasion this season, as an early goal took the wind out of our sails and we failed to recover from it for the whole match, although it was surprising to see that after such horrible form over the winter, it all had came down to a single match for the title, just showcasing how weak the league has been this season.
But, this is where it all went wrong for Carlo Ancelotti, when the spotlight was on him, he was found wanting on all the occasions, which obviously didn’t go down well with the Chelsea hierarchy.
How much of this was down to him having no capable support in the staff could be argued either way, but if the upturn in form in the last part of the season could be credited to him, then he’s liable to be blamed for the mistakes that he made previously.
In a nutshell it could be said that the basic aim for him on his appointment was to achieve the much craved European success, and this is what brought his downfall; failure in the Champions League for two consecutive seasons was ultimately too much for the success hungry Chelsea board.
It may not have been the right thing to not give him more time, but it isn’t something that the club hasn’t done in the past.
Andre Villas-Boas will also know what is demanded of him and that the club will show no mercy if the right results aren’t met.
The policies of the club may not appease the fans or the general public at large, but these are the turbulent, yet beautiful, times that we live in right now.