Well, the most unsurprising managerial appointment of the summer has thankfully been completed this morning, with Carlo Ancelotti taking over as the new manager of Chelsea on July 1st. It was no real surprise at all really and a couple of weeks ago, I posted my thoughts that Ancelotti was making sure that Chelsea really wanted him and sure enough, they did.
I feel for Ancelotti over his treatment at AC Milan, the owner was never the type that was ever going to stay in the background, as Berlusconi’s system was to buy aging stars and then give them to Ancelotti to try and fit into his system. He also had to cope with the fallout from the Calciopoli match fixing scandal, which saw Milan lose their Champions League place for the 2006-2007 season and start with minus 8 points. With the continual pressures of working for Italy’s Prime Minister, it was always going to be tough but he managed to deal with the situation as well as could be possible.
Of course, the detractors will point to his language skills and it is unusual for Chelsea to move so quickly for a manager learning the language, considering the problems with communication that apparently led to Scolari’s demise as the Blues manager. Tactically, we are constantly told that Abramovich wants Chelsea to play a fluid, attacking game, which is something that could never really be applied to Ancelotti’s tenure at the Rossoneri. Yet here is a manager that has had to deal with some of the largest ego’s in world football over the last few years, with Rivaldo, Ronaldo, Shevchenko and Beckham all being thrust upon him by his owner, trying to fit them into his system.
Getting AC Milan to three Champions League finals is also some achievement, but does that gloss over some of the failings of Milan’s recent Serie A showings, with no title in 5 seasons and third place only secured with the weekend’s victory over Fiorentina? Maybe, but Milan have still consistently shown well in the Champions League during his time as manager. Perhaps my main criticism, if it is one, is the age of the Milan squad. This is a team that creaks when it takes to the field and the over emphasis on Kaka and Pato is perhaps too much for even those two to drag the rest of the onwards.
Ideally, he’s probably left AC Milan at the right time, with his position questioned several times in the Italian press, a team massively in debt and a squad that needs a major overhaul to compete both domestically and in the Champions League. He’s left before Kaka has to be sold, which is in his benefit, no manager wants to be in charge when Milan finally cash in on their main asset and with the continual issues affecting the Italian League (Lack of exposure, rising debts, continual issues with hooliganism and Inter already looking like they can’t be caught again next season), Ancelotti will look back at leaving Milan with some relief I imagine.
Now he becomes Chelsea’s 5th manager in 3 seasons and with stories covering just how much he’ll have to spend ranging from £50 million to £200 million, Ancelotti has an opportunity to take Chelsea forwards. Of course it’s a big job, Chelsea’s squad does need overhauling, with more options up front and in midfield the key aspects that he needs to address. Being a top level manager in a major city will be fine for him, he’ll be used to the pressures that come with the terroritry and he’ll know exactly the type of players he wants.
It’ll be interesting to see if Chelsea sign anyone before July 1st, to see if Ancelotti has given a list of targets to the club to get for him, and with John Terry wanting the owner to spend big this summer, once again, Stamford Bridge will be an interesting place to be pre-season.