Mystery as Chelsea dump Ray Wilkins

Ray Wilkins, Carlo Ancelotti, Chelsea

The former Blues player got the bullet at half time during a reserve team game

BY Bill Mann LAST UPDATED AT 07:05 ON Fri 12 Nov 2010

Carlo Ancelotti called Ray Wilkins "my friend" in his recent autobiography but it appears the Chelsea manager did little to save his assistant from the sack on Thursday. Wilkins learned of his fate at half-time as he watched the Blues' second string play Bayern Munich at the club's Cobham training ground.

The dismissal was instantaneous and the 54-year-old Wilkins – who spent six years as a Chelsea player in the 1970s – failed to reappear for the second half having been told his contract would not be renewed. In true Stalinist style, all reference to Wilkins has been purged from the Chelsea website as if the former England midfielder never existed.

Wilkins is said to be devastated by the news with the Sun quoting a friend as saying: "This came as a complete shock. He had no offer of a new deal but took it on trust that it would be a formality. He feels extremely hurt and betrayed."

Wilkins arrived at Stamford Bridge in September 2008 to help the then coach Luiz Felipe Scolari adapt to the intricacies of English football and he was retained during Guus Hiddink's brief tenure and also when Ancelotti arrived at Chelsea last year. The pair appeared to get on well together with Ancelotti describing Wilkins as "my friend" in his book.

Ancelotti watched the first-half of the reserve game with Wilkins, allegedly in the knowledge that he knew what was coming at the interval when Wilkins was summoned to see chief executive Ron Gourlay. Apparently Ancelotti was "uncomfortable" with the axing of Wilkins but did nothing to stop it.

Though Chelsea have given no official explanation as to why Wilkins was sacked, simply thanking him in a press release for his service and wishing him well for the future, it's believed that his £350,000-a-year salary was too high and his contribution – now that Ancelotti has settled in at Chelsea – too low to warrant a new contract.

It seems Wilkins' most valuable asset was a knowledge of Italian (a language he learnt during a three year stint playing for AC Milan), but with Ancelotti's English improving his translation skills were no longer required.

It's also rumoured that Ancelotti is keen to install Paolo Maldini as his No2 at Chelsea. The former Italy and AC Milan defender turned down the position when Ancelotti was appointed Chelsea boss in 2009 but it's believed he might now accept the role. Another name mooted as a successor to Wilkins is Gianfranco Zola, sacked in the summer as manager of West Ham. · 

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