When Guus Hiddink stepped into the breach after a heartfelt plea from Roman Abrahamovich, the only definite thing we knew was that Hiddink would only be there until the end of the season. Hiddink has stuck to his line of response throughout his time at Stamford Bridge, politely but firmly dealing with the increasingly banal questions fired at him over his future plans.
So once the tabloids and television journalists finally got the message after 2 months, speculation moved towards Hiddinks inevitable successor. Of the names mentioned, the one with the most column inches seems to be Carlo Ancelotti of A.C. Milan. A former hero of the rossoneri, Ancelotti took the reins at the San Siro in 2001 and had the daunting task of rebuilding a floundering Milan.
Yet over the weekend, Ancelotti has been dismissing any link with Chelsea and the managers vacancy, by staking his future is still with Milan. “It is not a problem which concerns me, I don’t have to give my availability and the time has not yet come for me to be replaced at Milan.” Yet as is always the case with football, especially in Europe, 24 hours is a long time. Milan’s shy and retiring owner, the little known Italian politician Silvio Berlusconi then came out and blamed Ancelotti for A.C. not winning the scudetto by his poor tactical choices throughout the season.
I think Mr Berlusconi is probably not the best person to be criticising other people choices right now, but the lack of support from his club for Ancelotti since the outburst is deafening. With all indications that Abramovich is about to signal a return to the spending power of his first 3 seasons in charge of Chelsea, it was probably the indication for Ancelotti that he should wait for Berlusconi to sack him, rather than walk out for the Chelsea job.
Regardless of what Ancelotti has achieved in his 7 seasons at Milan, the 8 trophies he’s collected and the fact he survived the refereeing scandal that tarnished Italian football in 2006, only one person has the power at Milan and unfortunately it seems he doesn’t seem to care for Carlo’s achievements one little bit. Perhaps the statements from Ancelotti were simply a case of fishing for a response to see exactly where he stood in the scheme of things at Milan. By offering the bait of stating his intent to stay to see exactly where he stood, Berlusconi bit and has probably made up the mind of Ancelotti to join Chelsea. It’s a plan of lubricious deceit if it plays out correctly and Ancelotti now must know his future lays away from Italy now.
If Ancelotti has now found out just how much he’s appreciated in the corridors of power at Milan, his position was always under pressure once Marco Van Basten left Ajax. Berlusconi will have noted that and perhaps that was the signal for Ancelotti to check if the seat was still free for him in SW6. With Abramovich promising plenty of money to spend, certainly more than he ever had at Milan, it’s probably going to be the easiest thing in the world for him to wait for the sack and hop straight on the next flight to London.