Champions League - Early Doors: Is this the end of the road for Ancelotti?

Thu, 07 Apr 08:42:00 2011

If there's one man who will not be able to stomach Chelsea's aberration of a campaign along with his Beluga caviar it's Roman Abramovich.

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The Russian will already be oiling the wheels of his manager's getaway car after the Blues slumped to a 1-0 defeat to Manchester United at Stamford Bridge, and you cannot say that the Chelsea owner is not consistent in his treatment of managers.

Wayne Rooney not only netted what proved to be the winning goal after 24 minutes, but also showed admirable self-restraint in not offending the quivering nearby steady cams or ITV's seemingly disproportionate demographic of expert lip readers.

"He's done his talking on the pitch!" screamed Clive Tyldesley, who apparently forgot the fact that Rooney had ranted himself into trouble in a not too dissimilar environment on the weekend.

"The man in the news is making the news, with the celebrations thankfully natural" - it was almost as though the script had been dreamed up and written on a Manchester United club shop handkerchief the night before.

The man whose name is never more than one sentence apart from the word 'evergreen', Ryan Giggs, was provider for the goal. According to pundit Andy Townsend, as he was passing the ball to Rooney he actually said: "Go on, slot that away and make real news, Wayne!"

If you bought into the incessant pre-match hype, the stage was literally set for Rooney at the Bridge - and the forward's celebration matched the occasion perfectly.

Sprinting to the corner flag a la Roger Milla - minus the flouncy jig - he planted his bum on the turf, performed a little pirouette then raised both arms above his head to high-five the opportunist Little Pea.

The celebration was complex, coolly executed and utterly confounded all his critics in one fell swoop. Rooney is back.

As footballing sage Rio Ferdinand said after the match: "After being lynched all week, that is Wayne back to doing what he does best." If by that he meant the striker's celebration, then Doors wholeheartedly agrees.

But back to Ancelotti: the Italian will be all too acutely aware of Abramovich's track record in hiring and firing managers with breathtaking impatience - there is no one too astute to escape his no-Champions League wrath.

However Ancelotti must be allowed to stay at the club despite such a rotten season.

Carlo has been allowed to throw cash at every squad issue, and a new boss should not be brought in next season to reap the benefits of his investments.

The 51-year-old looks set to follow an historic domestic double last season with a distinctly dry offering this time around, but after he became the club's fourth permanent manager in 21 months and was handed a three-year deal, he should be afforded a third attempt.

The brutal fact is that Abramovich does not necessarily deserve a Champions League crown - he has not earned it or successfully bought it. He may say that he brought in Ancelotti with the stated aim of securing a maiden Champions League victory, which has not yet been achieved, but the Italian must be given a full tilt at bettering the efforts of Messrs Mourinho, Grant and Scolari.


Ten hours and counting. That is how much football Fernando Torres has now played without mustering a goal.

The more forcibly Chelsea's players and staff seek to quash Torres bashing, with 'the lad will come good', 'class is permanent, form is temporary' and 'you don't become a bad player overnight' platitudes, the more the sceptics sound the voice of reason.

Despite Didier Drogba looking far more threatening and imposing than the Spaniard, it was the Ivorian who made way for Nicolas Anelka's laboured runout, as if Ancelotti's desperation to stem the steady flow of questions thrown his way about Torres's form was starting to dictate his decisions.

The forward looked dejected, despondent and disgruntled after yet another match passed by with all the pre-match hype of 'Torres is the key', 'Torres must come good', not being actualised.

Torres was hauled up to his feet by an infuriated Rio Ferdinand at one point after the forward kissed the turf in theatrical fashion in his sheer desperation to make something happen.

The Spaniard did manage to deflect a cross from Drogba off his knee and against the far post on the stroke of half-time, but that was as good as it got for Chelsea's beleaguered forward.

The chants from opposing sides' fans will only get louder and more fervent as his drought continues and, as Diego Forlan would have told you while at United, it often takes more than a new Alice band to arrest such sustained impotence in front of goal.


QUOTE OF THE DAY: "Someone said it could have been a penalty (Evra's trip on Ramires in the final minute of the match) but if it was, it was the first decision we have got here in seven years, so I don't feel guilty about it at all." Ferguson does not feel guilty, if perhaps a little paranoid. After admitting that it could have been a penalty, the United boss was happy to put the decision in its apparently rightful context.

FOREIGN VIEW: Who says that Liverpool's owners do not know anything about football? Today, NBA basketball star LeBron James bought a share of the club, with the Miami Heat player's intention being to 'build his portfolio internationally'. But fear not, Reds fans, for LeBron says he has "a very real passion for sports". His love for all things Liverpool is duly apparent.

COMING UP: If the Romanian League is not your bag, then perhaps the Europa League is where you ought to be following your football this evening. Dynamo Kiev face Sporting Braga, Porto host Spartak Moscow, Benfica entertain PSV and Villarreal take on FC Twente.

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Early Doors / Eurosport

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