After a somewhat disappointing finish to the Premier League season, only picking up the FA Cup, Chelsea were on the hunt for a manager yet again. Having sacked Avram Grant before the previous season for Portugal’s national team boss Luiz Felipe Scolari had not worked out so well for owner Roman Abramovich. Replacing Scolari took too long in the eyes of most, and I have to say I am one of those, but bringing in Russia’s national team manager Guus Hiddink to finish the season as caretaker manager was a stroke of genius. Hiddink righted the ship and got Chelsea playing football that the fans wanted to see. This play would see Chelsea make the FA Cup final, securing a win against Everton for the trophy, but unfortunately bowing out of the Champions League a round early this year in defeat to future champions Barcelona. Though the level of play had risen considerably since his arrival, Hiddink declined Abramovich’s offer to make the position permanent, instead staying on full time with the Russian National Team. And the search began.
The list for manager candidates to take over at Chelsea could not be a long one, taking into consideration the ability to deal with superstar players and their egos, and the expectations of the owner and fans. So, knowing Hiddink was not going to return it was time to get to work. This summer would not be one of waiting around on another national team manager as last summer was for the Blues, announcing June 1, 2009 that now ex AC Milan boss Carlo Ancelotti would be in charge at Stamford Bridge. Ancelotti had resigned from Milan less than 24 hours before the announcement was made, after Milan’s final game of the season that saw them defeat Fiorentina 2-0. Would Ancelotti be the man for the job at the Bridge? He has a history with star players and difficult managers, making him look like the perfect candidate to come into Chelsea.
Ancelotti has a long history in the game, stretching back to his playing days with Parma in 1976. He also saw time with Milan and Roma during his playing days, and earned 26 caps for the Italian National Team, participating in the 1986 and 1990 World Cups. Ancelotti would start back at the bottom when his management career landed him with Serie B side Reggiana in 1995, earning the club promotion would be his only accomplishment with the team before leaving for a bigger job the following season. Ancelotti would leave Reggiana to take over at Parma until 1999 and then stepped up to Juventus for another two seasons. After bringing Juventus back up to the top, Milan would bring him in to help improve upon their side that had been struggling.
In Italy, Ancelotti is proven. He has won every major award you can win in Italy and even managed a few European titles as well. He is one of a small number of people to have won the European Championship both as a player and a manager, the newest to the list being Barcelona’s Pep Guardiola. So it is time to branch out and leave Italian football behind. Ancelotti will be Chelsea’s third Italian manager and fifth manager in the last 2 years time, but he will be looking to lead the team to glory in England and in Europe. If you want titles you must bring in a man who knows how to win them.
Will Ancelotti be able to translate his success in Italy to success in England’s top league? Only time will tell but judging by the teams preseason this year the future for Chelsea looks promising. Ancelotti will have a job on his hands this season at the helm, but good coaching is good coaching, and I think he is starting out on the right foot for the London based club. They might not win the League this season or become European Champions, but the outlook for a chance at these trophies looks promising.