Carlo Ancelotti paid tribute to Ray Wilkins in his press conference today as Cobham was left stunned in the wake of the assistant managers shock axing from the Chelsea Football Club staff.
With Chelsea fans across the country frustrated by the abrupt and seemingly ruthless manner in which a Chelsea legend was dismissed, Ancelotti’s response was full of superlatives yet without substance.
‘I want to say one thing. Ray was a fantastic assistant coach – I want to say thanks to him because he was a fantastic support last season and this season.
‘He did a fantastic job and helped me and all the team to win the Double, so the first thing is to say a lot of thanks to him. He is my friend, I have a fantastic relationship with him and I will have a fantastic relationship with him. He knew very well English football and has a lot of experience as assistant. His job he did very well.’
‘The club made this decision, I think it was a difficult decision for everyone but I have respect for this decision. I have trust in all the staff working with me, and now we have to move on.”
Whilst it is clear that the current Chelsea manager holds Wilkins in high regard, it is a shame that the powers that run the club did not share his view. Perhaps, as has been reported Wilkins role in the Chelsea set up had depreciated in value as Ancelotti got to grips with not only the English League but also the English language. It has also been widely reported that the motive for not renewing Wilkins contract was a financial one, with chief executive Ron Gourlay assessing the club and its finances and cutting costs accordingly. The figure that is being circulated for Wilkins assistant managers salary at Chelsea is £350,000 per year. Hardly, in current footballing terms, a bank breaking sum. If Gourlay, a figure that is becoming more hatchet man than business man, has arrived at this decision with the sole intent of cutting costs then it is a sad day not just for Chelsea Football Club, but also for football.
Similarly it has been suggested that Wilkins did not demonstrate a sophisticated level of technical abililites as a coach, a notion hard to fathom when a side under his guidance has just walked away with a domestic double and sits four points clear at the league summit. If this was the case however, and a ‘superior’ coach was being lined up to bring new energy, direction and focus into the Champions push for silverware, it would be a lot easier to stomach.
As it is, a two line statement followed up by the instant removal of Wilkins biography on the official site and if rumour and conjecture are to believed a half time sacking whilst attending a reserve fixture is an absolutely disgraceful way to go about business and an incredible show of disrespect to a man who has served Chelsea Football Club in difficult times with Blue blood coursing through his veins.
Ancelotti, urged his squad to move on from the drama that has unfolded in recent days and to remain focused on the task at hand.
‘We have to look forward, stay focused on the next game because it is an important season for us and it is important to move on”, he said.
‘I spoke with the players to tell them the club made the decision, but as I said before we have to move on and stay focused. The players are in focus and will continue to stay focused.”
It had seemed for a while that Chelsea Football Club was a settled ship sailing on tranquil waters, whilst other clubs hit the headlines, the Champions remained relaxed and focused, confident of what lay ahead. Now, after poor performances, injuries, suspensions and the club once again on the front and back pages for the wrong reasons, it seems the Blues are in danger of heading into troubled waters, unsure of what lies ahead and without it’s most hardened and loyal servant.