Ancelotti in firing line after European exit

Chelsea owner Abramovich has not pulled trigger yet but signs do not look good for coach after defeat to Man Utd.

    Abramovich is a picture of patriarchal disappointment as he watches the quarterfinal at Old Trafford [AFP]

    Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti was still employed as he finished his breakfast this morning but the chants of "You're getting sacked in the morning" aimed at him by Manchester United fans are unlikely to have ceased reverberating at the back of his mind.

    The Italian's future remains far from secure after Blues owner Roman Abramovich watched the club's latest failure in the European Champions League.

    The futility of the latest quest was highlighted by the struggles of Fernando Torres, who at $81.7 million is increasingly looking like an expensive mistake.

    Abramovich may be glumly viewing his entire Chelsea venture as such after Tuesday's 3-1 aggregate defeat to English rivals United saw the European dream die for yet another season.

    The Russian's era at Stamford Bridge has seen four men try and fail to bring a prize that United boss Alex Ferguson – who has won it twice – described as Chelsea's "obsession".

    Claudio Ranieri, Jose Mourinho, Avram Grant – who lost the final against United – and now Ancelotti. All to some extent presided over domestic and European success unprecedented in the club's history.


    But the Russian owner will feel that it is his investment that has brought those trophies, and his lieutenants have simply failed to gallop back with the greatest prize of all.
    Managers are a disposable entity in west London, cheap to get rid of even if they have time left on their contract when measured against the investment in players, and Abramovich has shown no hesitation in pushing the eject button in the past.

    Torres: Expensive mistake? [AFP]

    "It's not my decision whether I stay or go," Ancelotti told a news conference after the 2-1 quarterfinal second leg defeat that sealed their fate.

    "I haven't spoken to him (Abramovich)."
    With the defence of their English Premier League title all but over as they trail leaders United by 11 points, European glory had been their last realistic chance of silverware.

    Ancelotti had been given top-of-the-range tools for the job with January's record purchase of striker Torres from Liverpool.

    But 'El Nino' has yet to score and his lack of confidence was glaringly obvious against United.

    Ferguson said Ancelotti had "had to play" Torres because of his price tag and even the Italian admitted he "maybe" made a mistake in starting him instead of goalscorer Didier Drogba, who replaced the Spaniard for the second half.

    Rather than blame his tools, Abramovich has a track record in blaming his managers, which renders the one year remaining on Ancelotti's contract less important than he might think.

    Grant was sacked three days after the 2008 Champions League final, having taken the side to runners-up spots in three competitions that season, which is more than they will achieve this season.
    Ancelotti's compatriot Ranieri was dismissed in 2004 despite leading the team to second in the league, their highest finish in almost half a century, and the semi-finals of the Champions League.
    He was replaced by Jose Mourinho, who brought in two league titles, two League Cups and an FA Cup but even the self-proclaimed "Special One" did not capture a European Cup and he left in 2007 after falling out with Abramovich.

    Ancelotti did take Chelsea to a domestic double last season but as Abramovich rested his chin on his hand while he watched events unfold at Old Trafford, the latest European failure was more likely to stick in his mind.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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