Ancelotti forced to admit he could leave Chesea in the summer
Chelsea moved up to third in the Premier League table with a 2-0 victory over Manchester City yesterday, but manager Carlo Ancelotti was left to defend his position as manager after chief executive Ron Gourlay had earlier said the Italian's job will be reviewed in the summer.
Chelsea leapfrogged over City thanks to late goals from two Brazilian players David Luiz and Ramires. Ancelotti's side remain nine points behind leaders Manchester United, with nine games remaining, after his team managed their third successive victory in the Premier League.
Fernando Torres again failed to score, taking his barren run for Chelsea to seven games and 495 minutes of play since moving from Liverpool in January for £50m.
Ancelotti admitted afterwards that he could leave Chelsea in the summer if that is the decision of owner Roman Abramovich and the board. The former Milan manager said: “I'm happy in this moment. So I think we will continue. If one party — the club or myself — is not happy to continue, I think we'll have to split.”
Ancelotti admitted he had been lucky to keep his job after the Double winners' poor run of form at the end of last year. “I know very well that this team slept for two months and, in that moment, I had fantastic support from the team. A lot of coaches that sleep for two months, at this moment, are at home watching the game on television. I am here. Fortunately,” he said.
Chelsea remain in with a outside chance of retaining their title, and are in the quarter-finals of the Champions League, but it is not enough to secure Ancelotti's long-term future as manager. The club's chief executive Gourlay went on Radio 5 Live earlier yesterday to suggest the manager's position will depend on results in the next two months.
Ancelotti has a year to run on his £6m-a-year contract but Gourlay admitted there are no guarantees he will be at the club to see it through.
Gourlay said: “All you can say is that Carlo has a contract with the club until 2012. We're delighted with Carlo and what he's achieved so far. These things can be pretty fickle. Carlo has come in and won the Double last season. Yes, the expectations are high, but they are high at many clubs around Europe and we've got to be realistic. Let's see where we are at the end of May then we'll judge the coach and other people at the football club.”
The confusion over Ancelotti's future overshadowed an important and deserved victory for Chelsea over one of their main rivals for a top four place.
The Chelsea manager said he was happy with the contribution of Torres, who started the game alongside Salomon Kalou, ahead of Nicolas Anelka and Didier Drogba.
Ancelotti said: “Torres not scoring again doesn't matter. With Fernando, apart from Liverpool, we've won all our games. I hope Drogba, Anelka and Kalou also start to score. But it's important this team has a good spirit because they're working very hard.
“Torres has to keep going. He doesn't have to lose his confidence. I haven't asked him to score. I've asked him to move well, and he has good movement. We have to be patient, and so does here. The goal will arrive.”
City are running out of steam. They were knocked out of the Europa League by Dynamo Kiev in midweek and in the league have managed only eight points from their last seven matches in the Premier League.
Manager Roberto Mancini said his players were tired after Thursday's game against Kiev and that fatigue contributed to conceding two goals in the last 11 minutes of the game.
“I think that the game on Thursday, playing with 10 players, probably affected us in the last 20-25 minutes as we were so tired. We were ready to change when we conceded a goal,” he said. Mancini conceded his team are now in for a fight to finish in the Champions League places. He said: “I think that after Saturday's results today was an important game. If we had won or drawn probably it would have been fantastic but now nothing changes and in this moment we have eight games until the end and it will be very important to recover all the players.”
City were without Carlos Tevez, who has damaged a groin muscle but should be fit for City's next game at home to Sunderland on April 3. City's assistant manager David Platt said: “It would have been a risk for us to play Carlos today. That was the medical advice. He wants to play, but to run the risk of maybe damaging his muscle would have meant he would be out for a longer period.”
lWigan manager Roberto Martinez believes the fact his side have been fighting to get out of the relegation zone for the last two months may work in their favour in the final games of the season.
Although their last-gasp 2-1 win over fellow strugglers Birmingham, only a second win in 12 league matches, could not get them off the foot of the table it has put them within touching distance of safety.
Remarkably they are only three points off 13th-placed Blackburn and with Newcastle, in 11th, only a further three ahead Martinez thinks one club may be in for a shock as the campaign reaches its climax.
The Spaniard predicted: “I feel now there are seven or eight teams from which someone could be surprised and dragged in late in the season. The league this season has been fantastic from the bottom to the top and there are still a lot of twists and turns to come.”