The Champions League quarter finals were always going to be tight games played out on a knife edge. We all knew what we’d signed up for. The margins between victory and defeat are often brutally minimal, a key decision this way or a special piece of play that, can be often what decides the crunch games. In both ties we enjoyed greater possession and created good chances but, when we were on top, we didn’t make it count. Man United were ultimately more clinical in front of goal, had the rub of the green with some decisions and seized their opportunities with aplomb. Sadly, once again, it wasn’t to be our year for the big cup. Many have been quite pragmatic about the defeat, acknowledging new blood may be needed in certain areas but that it’s certainly not the end of the world. The press however have seen things differently and the tiresome speculation on the future of Ancelotti’s job, verging on a vendetta, is taking up more of the manager’s questions than even Torres’ barren spell.
So why should Carlo be given another crack? Reason one would be his credentials, experience and managerial record – the Scudetto and two Champions League trophies with Milan being the highlights before Chelsea. It was his tactical acumen that laid waste to a superior United side in 2007 en route to the holy grail. For Chelsea he won the Community Shield and the double in his first season, amassing a Premier League record 103 goals in the process. His 62% win percentage as a Chelsea manager has only been bettered by the Special One. Under his reign we’ve seen Chelsea smash goal-scoring records, play adventurous, attacking football and seen our club cemented at the top echelon of the English game with a historic double.
The second reason for Carlo to stay is continuity for the club. Last season we won the FA youth cup, at the time of writing we’ve again progressed to the semi-final. It is clear that there is some real talent coming through the ranks. We’ve all noted the performances of Sturridge, Van Aanholt and Borini out on loan and Josh Mceachran has the potential to be a very special player for the future. All these players need to be developed and integrated into the first team. It is a gradual process. It needs good man-management of established stars – understanding they can’t play each game – whilst nurturing the youth players, helping to raise their game and blood them into a world class side successfully. The groundwork has already been done and only a manager with a strong understanding of the playing staff at all levels of the club can do this successfully – a new man coming in would want quick success and be far less likely to take risks. If we seriously want to give our youth players a chance then continuity in the coaching is vital.
The third reason is an odd one but stick with me. Carlo got it wrong – but he knows how to put it right. This season hasn’t been a success because we relied too much on established names, lacked depth when key injuries hit us and the youth players couldn’t be relied on to dig us out. Bad luck may have been one part but there was also misjudgement. The sizeable outlay for Luiz and Torres created competition and boosted our options at a key time. The manager has shown cajones with his decision making of late without receiving the plaudits. Torres lacklustre performance at Old Trafford saw him subbed and on the bench he has remained. Price tags clearly mean nothing but form does. Likewise the 4-4-2 has been placed on the backburner, opponent’s have narrowed their defence to be more compact. So the coaches have opted for more width, with three up top defences are now more stretched and the goals have returned. The message in such changes is if you don’t work hard for the team you won’t stay in the team, something that got lost in the doldrums of this campaign. I think Carlo has learned the lesson this season and is putting it right.
We haven’t been far off winning silverware this term despite the midseason slump. With a couple of additions to the squad there will be few who would doubt us challenging for titles in May next year. This season hasn’t been a disaster and the club shouldn’t be goaded into changing the management on account of media pressure or a perceived lack of success. Carlo can bring further success to the club, he just needs the support to make it happen.