Premier League - Early Doors: Why Ancelotti must go

Tue, 15 Feb 08:53:00 2011

There is a section of Chelsea support that rather shrilly proclaims Carlo Ancelotti to be useless, an idiot, a destroyer of the team who must be packed off back to Italy immediately.

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ED finds this harsh, jingoistic and of that peculiar school of football fanatic whose memory struggles to stretch back six months, let alone six seasons.

Ancelotti is doubtlessly a superb coach, and his team's dominance last season and in the early part of this campaign was testament to his ability to organise and motivate good players to achieve better results.

But what Chelsea need right now is a manager, not a coach, and certainly not one with the air of a man defeated. The warning signs came when Ray Wilkins was sacked - apparently without Ancelotti's knowledge, let alone his wishes.

Whether the sudden absence of Butch's man-management skills sent the team on a downward spiral is open to debate and, if one is not privy to Chelsea's daily Epsom routines, nothing more than a matter of opinion.

However - and ED is almost tired of repeating this mantra - it was a clear and possibly fatal undermining of Ancelotti's authority and control over the team, an authority that is essential if the man in the dugout is to control the dominant alpha-males that make up Chelsea's squad.

That kind of authority is also required to shape up the Blues squad in the long-term.

The Stamford Bridge elite is getting old, and staid, and some radical changes are required in the summer if the club is to be elevated back to a title-challenging level.

The soon-to-end Frank Arnesen years simply have not worked, because the best young players still go to Arsenal, Manchester United, Barcelona and Internazionale, and those who do come to Chelsea do not make the first team.

The best young players opt for the tried-and-tested development structures that offer tangible evidence of a route to the first team: the only Premier-level player Chelsea have produced in five years is Michael Mancienne - Franco Di Santo is a Championship player and, while Gael Kakuta and Josh McEachran have potential, they are very young and yet to convince.

Board meddling at technical level is nothing new but it is becoming a more visible trait in the Premier League - Blackburn's current owners and the former regime at Liverpool are different but not unfamiliar examples, not to mention the Football Manager-esque antics of Manchester City's owners.

Chelsea need someone with the corporate clout to dictate matters to the board, to radically reshape the club, to mould it with the next 10 or 20 years in mind - as Ancelotti has shown in the past that he is not that man.

Sir Alex Ferguson, Arsene Wenger, Louis van Gaal, Guus Hiddink, Pep Guardiola and even the likes of Owen Coyle and Sam Allardyce are all-or-nothing bosses, with distinct playing philosophies and strategic attitudes to player acquisition in the short and long-term. They also have the cojones to take these ideals to the top, and to walk if they are not heeded.

Ancelotti is a company man, who works with what he has and largely works very well - this may initially flatter the egos of Chelsea's power-brokers but eventually, when overhaul and the resetting of goals is required, he appears to fall short.

The evidence of this is in his time at Milan. Initially highly successful, he worked with the excellent players at his disposal thanks to the club's separate transfer policy. Silvio Berlusconi and his chums decided who came to the club, and when money became tight Ancelotti did not rock the boat, nor did he attempt to inject youth into an ageing squad.

By the end of his stay at the San Siro the Rossoneri were barely a top-four side in a weakening league, boasting a back four with a combined age of around 150.

The same pattern is emerging at Stamford Bridge - the signings of Fernando Torres and David Luiz seemed driven by panic and the vanity of a Roman Abramovich smarting at justifiable claims that he was losing interest in the club's fortunes and, while they are good players with an air of the marquee about them, it does not appear that they were chosen by Ancelotti, or that he even cares.

Chelsea need youth and vigour, and a strongman to wield and axe and take some big risks to bring it to the fore. For all his skills, Carlo - who in the summer had the bargaining tool of the Premier League title - isn't that man.

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QUOTE OF THE DAY: "I have had a very good spell in my career and it's a long time since I have had a very serious knock-back so, when it comes, it wounds you. You wouldn't be human if it didn't but it hasn't dented any confidence or belief. But I can't lie and say it didn't hurt me, or I didn't care, because, of course, I care. I care very passionately about my job and I care about football and I have had an awful lot of praise. So, when you get the opposite, it's not something you particularly embrace, but, if you've got half a brain, you accept that as being part of the job or par for the course" - Roy Hodgson admits that he was hurt by what happened at Liverpool. Poor Woy.

FOREIGN VIEW: "S-Pulse congratulates Shinji Okazaki on attracting attention from such an esteemed club and feels this is a great achievement. However, the announcement has caused S-Pulse some embarrassment, as its agreement was not sought before it was made. S-Pulse represents - and has the support of - its shareholders, supporters, sponsors, players, staff and many other people and related parties. S-Pulse thus cannot be seen to be allowing the transfer of a player which is against FIFA regulations" - in a refreshing antidote to the self-righteous anger that emanates from European clubs when players try to leave for bigger and better things, the Japanese values of honour and decorum shine through Shimizu S-Pulse's announcement that Shinji Okazaki joined Stuttgart without their permission.

COMING UP: Where to start? This evening we have live coverage of Tottenham's Champions League last-16 clash with Milan, Birmingham and Newcastle's Premier League encounter and Manchester City's Europa League last-32 trip to Aris Saloniki. We'll also be updating you with the goals and major highlights of the evening's Championship action. Oh, and Armchair Pundit Alex Chick weighs in with his tuppence worth this afternoon.

Early Doors / Eurosport

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