Home Premier league Roman Abramovich’s biggest Chelsea managerial mistake highlighted again by Pep Guardiola failure

Roman Abramovich’s biggest Chelsea managerial mistake highlighted again by Pep Guardiola failure

Roman Abramovich's biggest Chelsea managerial mistake highlighted again by Pep Guardiola failure

It’s been quite the week for Carlo Ancelotti. On Saturday, the Italian became the first coach to win each of European football’s five major leagues as Real Madrid clinched the La Liga title. And last night, he oversaw the extraordinary at the Bernabeu to reach a fifth Champions League final.

Real Madrid were moments away from elimination against Pep Guardiola’s Man City. Then within the space of 120 seconds, they were level in the tie. Rodrygo struck twice, and from that point on, there was only going to be one winner. And so it proved as Karim Benzema’s penalty in extra time confirmed Los Blancos’ place in the final.

Dramatic comebacks have been the story of Madrid’s Champions League campaign. They produced one against Paris Saint-Germain in the Round of 16, and hauled themselves back into the quarter-final tie against Chelsea with a moment of brilliance from Luka Modric. The Blues had dominated Real on their own pitch, but still, it wasn’t enough.

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“Not many believed we could make it, but the players believed in it more than anyone else,” Ancelotti told Prime Video Italia after last night’s triumph. “In this stadium, a spark is enough. PSG know something about it. Chelsea as well. It’s the magic of this stadium, the sense of belonging of these players and their quality.”

When discussions around who is currently the world’s greatest coach occur, Ancelotti’s name rarely gets a mention. Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp have tended to dominate the discussion, although Thomas Tuchel has made his case over the past 18 months. Then there is Julian Nagelsmann, the Bayern Munich coach who, at the age of 34, is still viewed as a wunderkind.

Yet while Ancelotti may no longer possess the meticulous and demanding tactical ideals of that quartet – at 62 years old, that is perhaps no surprise – what he does better than most, perhaps even all, is develop an almost unbreakable belief within a squad. After all, it’s why his part-autobiography was titled Quiet Leadership: Winning Hearts, Minds and Matches.

To the players who work under him, Ancelotti is rarely viewed as simply a coach and implicitly a boss. He is, to many a friend, a man to be trusted. Rodrygo highlighted that after his quick-fire double shocked Man City. “He’s always together with us, joking around,” said the Brazilian. “He’s our coach and our friend.”

This has been the case for much of Ancelotti’s coaching career, particularly the past two decades. At Chelsea, he was almost universally liked by players and staff. It’s why he was able to guide the Blues to a Premier League and FA Cup double in his first campaign at Stamford Bridge. No coach before or since has been able to do the same.

His second campaign wasn’t quite as successful; it ended without a trophy. A second-place finish in the Premier League was achieved, but Roman Abramovich viewed that as a failure at that stage of his ownership. Ancelotti was sacked in a corridor at Goodison Park after the final game of the 2010/11 campaign at Everton.

“Chelsea is not more difficult than other clubs. It’s the same,” Ancelotti reflected later in his career. “Every club have expectations, and when things are not how they like, what are they going to do, change 20 players? The easiest way is to change the manager. This is what happens in football. All the managers know this.”

It was on the team coach back from Liverpool that Chelsea’s players were told the news that Ancelotti had been sacked. An indication of the respect the players had for their coach was – despite him having ten friends over from Italy – they insisted he joined them that evening for dinner and drinks.

We got back, went out in London and had a really good night,” Ancelotti’s assistant at Chelsea, Paul Clement, recalled in 2017. “It was a bar up in town. We went with some players — Frank Lampard, John Terry, and Ashley Cole. It was a great night. The big players did not want him to go.”

Perhaps that is what influenced what came next. Abramovich opted to appoint Andre Villas-Boas and paid Porto £14million for the privilege. But the Portuguese’s personality was the antithesis of Ancelotti’s, and he quickly fell out with several members of the first-team squad. Villas-Boas was nine sacked just nine months into his tenure.

Chelsea, of course, ended that season having won the Champions League and FA Cup under Robbie Di Matteo. But he did not last long as head coach. Rafa Benitez followed, and that resulted in public outcry from supporters and constant negativity at Stamford Bridge.

It’s impossible to know what would have happened had Ancelotti remained at Chelsea; there are those at the club which still consider his sacking the biggest managerial mistake of the Abramovich era. The Italian went on to coach at PSG, and his first spell at Real Madrid began in the summer of 2013. Less than a year later and he had won the Champions League once again.

For a record fourth time as a coach, the chance to do so awaits Ancelotti later this month. Liverpool, who he faced in the 2005 and 2007 Champions League finals, awaits. And while the Reds will be favourites in Paris, Real Madrid have shown they can’t be written off, especially under the quiet leadership of Ancelotti.

Source by Football London

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