Chelsea sack Ancelotti: when was his fate sealed?

May 23, 2011
Ben Riley-Smith

Chelsea manager is dismissed in corridors of Goodison, but pundits torn on when fate was sealed

Wearing a black shirt, black jacket and black tie, Carlo Ancelotti was suitably dressed for what turned out to be his last day as Chelsea manager. Minutes after his team's 1-0 defeat at Everton, having fulfilled his media duties, the 51-year-old Italian was dismissed with immediate effect in the corridors of Goodison Park by the club's chief executive Ron Gourlay.

The brutal manner of Ancelotti's sacking – which came just 12 months after he led Chelsea to their first ever League and FA Cup double – dismayed the Irish Independent's Rory Smith. "Ancelotti, a fundamentally decent man, deserved better than this," he wrote. "He did not deserve to be paraded in front of the press as the gun was being loaded."

For most pundits, however, the dismissal was no surprise – their focus turned instead to pinpointing the moment that Ancelotti's sacking became inevitable. For the Sun's Rob Beasley, "Carlo Ancelotti's fate was sealed at Old Trafford at 4.11pm on May 8. The Chelsea boss was a goner as soon as Manchester United striker Javier Hernandez scored in the do-or-die title decider after just 37 seconds."


Ferguson's Red Devils were also seen as the cause for Ancelotti's downfall by Phil McNulty, though the BBC man points to earlier in the year when United knocked Chelsea out of Europe. "He has been on borrowed time almost from the moment Manchester United cut off another route to silverware this season and denied Chelsea - and more significantly Abramovich - his Holy Grail of the Champions League"


The problems lay deeper than that for Jason Burt of the Daily Telegraph, who writes that even early in the season Chelsea's manager appeared increasing isolated. "Ancelotti was left embarrassed by the club's decision to sack assistant Ray Wilkins as well as their approach to transfer dealings. With sporting director Frank Arnesen having decided to leave - he officially joins Hamburg this week - Ancelotti had also lost his closest ally at Chelsea."


It was the surprise dismissal of Ray Wilkins in November that kick-started Chelsea's worst run of form for 15 years, a winter collapse that created a Premier League point-gap that would prove too big to overcome. However, the season was already fatally flawed by the transfer movements of summer 2010, according to the Independent's Mark Fleming.


"The seeds for this season's failure were sown last summer," he wrote, "when Chelsea released five senior professionals – Michael Ballack, Joe Cole, Ricardo Carvalho, Juliano Belletti and Deco. Ballack told the Independent last year that Ancelotti did not want him to leave, although publicly the manager has always said he agreed with the decision."


A consensus appears to have formed among most pundits that Ancelotti was 'done over' by Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, the Russian fatally meddling in transfer policy or backroom staff appointments. The Guardian's Richard Williams proves to be a lone voice questioning the popular 'evil foreign owner' narrative when he suggests that weaknesses in Ancelotti's managerial style may well have caused Chelea's failure this season.


"Ancelotti's rounded character, civilised attitude to life and sardonic wit have always appeared to be accompanied by a certain passivity," he writes. "If that makes him a nicer man than one or two of his predecessors at Chelsea, it may also make him a less effective decision-maker in moments of personal and collective adversity."

Sign up for our daily newsletter