15 years ago, an increasingly frustrated 29-year-old Gianfranco Zola warmed the Parma benches, as Carlo Ancelotti strutted up and down the touch lines.
Ancelotti had made up his mind; Zola would either play out of position, or warm the benches – no ifs, ands or buts.
15 years later, an apprehensive 51-year-old Carlo Ancelotti stared impassively at his mobile phone, perhaps aware that whilst he escaped the rapture, there would be no escaping the Russian’s ruthlessness.
Roman Abramovich had made up his mind: arrivederci Ancelotti—no ifs, ands or buts.
Here are the five reasons why Abramovich sacked Ancelotti.
During Carlo Ancelotti’s eight year tenure at AC Milan, he won more UEFA Champions League titles than Serie A titles.
Roman Abramovich brought in Ancelotti as a Champions League winning specialist.
He failed, and he also failed to win the English Premier League, the FA Cup, and the Carling Cup.
Ничего is Russian for nothing, and Abramovich had Ancelotti in his crosshairs, as he uttered ничего over and over again.
On the 28th of May 2006, bunga bunga parties and selling an out of form and deteriorating Andriy Shevchenko for £30.8 million provided the only happiness to a sombre Silvio Berlusconi, as he contemplated about life without public office.
Roman Abramovich was the unfortunate billionaire who was conned into buying Shevchenko.
What irked José Mourinho was Abramovich spent such an exorbitant fee on one player so disproportionate to his playing ability.
Vexed by the situation at hand, Mourinho openly defied Abramovich by benching Shevchenko. A year later, Mourinho was part of the unemployment sector.
Fast forward to the 31st of January 2011. Abramovich spent a ridiculous £50 million on Fernando Torres, who had a Stéphane Guivarc'h-esque FIFA World Cup, lost his ability to make incisive runs, and was not scoring as prolifically as the Torres of old.
Throughout his career, Carlo Ancelotti has frozen out footballers who could not fit into his rigid formation, regardless of pedigree or potential.
By benching Torres, Ancelotti was essentially slapping Abramovich in the face, and just as with Mourinho, Abramovich was the last one standing.
In Carlo Ancelotti’s autobiography, Preferisco la Coppa, he revealed how Roman Abramovich told him how unsatisfied he was with Chelsea.
Abramovich discussed how for a team that he funded with the vision of beautiful Barcelona-like football, José Mourinho then turned into a dull and ugly—but winning—footballing side.
Yet as successful as Mourinho was, he still didn’t win the UEFA Champions League. Down went the guillotine.
As Ancelotti recanted in his autobiography, Preferisco la Coppa, he told Abramovich, “President, your team is very physical, you have to put more quality in the middle of the pitch.”
Yet why did Ancelotti then buy Ramires, a physical, hard working, blue collar and Mourinho-esque midfielder for £17 million?
Perhaps it didn’t help that a deteriorating Deco was sold, and Yossi Benayoun, the only player in the squad with creative flair, was injured for six months.
Though would Ancelotti have consistently started a fit Benayoun?
For the rest of the season, Carlo Ancelotti’s Chelsea played uninspiring, dull and at times uninterested football—reminiscent of Mourinho’s short lived final season at Stamford Bridge.
If Roman Abramovich can be sweet talked into installing someone as seemingly uncharismatic as Avram Grant as Chelsea manager, then whatever advice “advisor” Guus Hiddink gave would have been sage-like to Abramovich.
Whilst it’s speculation, it’s almost accepted as fact that Grant talked his way into replacing José Mourinho.
He happened to be in the right place at the right time, and Abramovich was hoping for a quick fix. Too bad Grant talked the talk, but couldn’t walk the walk.
His style of football was ironically similar to that of Mourinho, and the fact that Grant has now relegated two teams in two successive years speaks volumes to how competent he is as a manager.
If Hiddink did apply the final nail in the coffin, it’s not his fault given Ancelotti was destined to write up a new C.V. after failing to win anything.
He only needed to look at the fate of Claudio Ranieri, Avram Grant and Luiz Scolari.
On a lighter note, Abramovich has a long way to go if he is to challenge Massimo Moratti's knee jerk managerial sackings.
Moratti once sacked eight managers in four years, including poor old Roy Hodgson twice!
It will be interesting to see who does replace Ancelotti. The name on everyone’s lips is Marco van Basten, and one can only wonder which advisor provided that advice.
Sheik Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s limitless funding at Eastlands has seen Manchester City rise into a force to be reckoned with.
Roberto Mancini has assembled a formidable Manchester City side, which will aim to win the English Premier League next season and contend for the UEFA Champions League.
If they fail next season, Mancini will be out, and Sheik Mansour will just inject more funding until Manchester City wins.
You see, Roman Abramovich cannot afford to do this, because he is limited and he cannot contend with Sheik Mansour on a financial basis.
Can the current Chelsea squad contend with Manchester City next season? No.
It is likely that Abramovich will completely overhaul Chelsea’s aging squad in the summer with a new manager, whether it be Marco Van Basten or Guus Hiddink, with a new playing philosophy and with the goal of winning everything, like Manchester City.
The first casualty in the summer overhaul was Carlo Ancelotti.