With the season’s close just over a week away, Chelsea look set for another likely summer overhaul with the major decision to be made over the future of manager Carlo Ancelotti. Opinion has been split over the Italian’s right to see out the final year of his contract at Stamford Bridge next season and attempt to wrest back the Premier League crown that will, in all likelihood, slip from Chelsea’s grasp into Manchester United’s hands this weekend. Blues former assistant manager Ray Wilkins, who worked alongside Ancelotti in last seasons’ double-winning set up, and Ancelotti’s domestic and Champions League nemesis Sir Alex Ferguson have both backed his claim to remain in the Stamford Bridge hot seat, but, of course, the fate of Ancelotti lies in the Chelsea board and owner Roman Abramovich, who will examine his position at the season’s end on the back of a trophy-less campaign.
Under his guidance, Chelsea do not need a lot of work to regain their place at the Premier League summit, if they can start next season in a similar vain to this and continue the good form shown recently which has seen them look more like last year’s Premier League victors. That said, the squad does need freshening up and decisions will have to be made on some of the senior players futures. Didier Drogba could be one high-profile exit from the playing staff, as he can hand the reins of leading the Blues attack over to Fernando Torres in the knowledge that he has given his all for the club over the last seven years. At 33, he remains a wonderful talisman up front, on his day capable of bossing any centre-back and scoring incredible goals, but the time may now be right for him to ply his trade elsewhere, with a return to his spiritual home at Marseille in France a potential move, or possibly reuniting with former Blues boss Jose Mourinho at Real Madrid.
Should Drogba leave it will hopefully release some pressure on Torres, who has found it difficult to adjust to Chelsea’s style of play which is intended to provide for the Ivorian, not him. Giving Ancelotti time to re-format the team around the Spaniard may pay off if granted, and money to spend in the transfer market to address issues at right-back and on either wing would allow Ancelotti to bring in players he considers to fit the bill at Stamford Bridge. With an injury-free pre-season under his belt and team set up to provide for him instead of Drogba could see a return to the Torres of old, a proven Premier League goalscorer whom Chelsea fans will hope to see hitting the net a lot more over the coming seasons.
Backing Ancelotti would not be admission of failure. Moreover it would be an indication that the times of operating a ‘revolving door’ policy of management have come to an end, a test of patience and willingness to give a manager time to succeed, as opposed to cutting their ties on the back of an unproductive season. Inserting a recognised assistant to Ancelotti, e.g. Gianfranco Zola, would not only appease Chelsea fans but give Ancelotti valuable advice and guidance which has been missed this season since Wilkins’ dismissal as assistant manager last November. It would also provide a true legend of the club with a platform to learn under a successful fellow Italian manager, with the potential to step into his shoes when Ancelotti could depart in the future. As the saying goes ‘Rome was not built in a day.’ It is in the hands of one Roman alone to decide how many days Ancelotti has left to build at Chelsea.