Abramovich offers cash backing for Ancelotti
Roman Abramovich has assured Carlo Ancelotti that his job is safe for now in the wake of Chelsea's 1-0 defeat to Wolverhampton Wanderers on Wednesday that has left them with 10 points from the last 11 games. Ancelotti will also have the funds to bid for Benfica defender David Luiz this month.
The possibility of failing to qualify for the Champions League now hangs over Chelsea after the defeat to Wolves which was their sixth of the season and leaves them in fifth place and nine points adrift of leaders Manchester United who have played one fewer game.
Yet as of last night, senior figures at the club were confident that Abramovich and his close aide and club director Eugene Tenenbaum were not preparing to make the same kind of swift decisions that brought to an end the employment of Jose Mourinho and Luiz Felipe Scolari.
Contrary to Ancelotti's remarks in the aftermath of defeat at Molineux, the club do not believe that they are completely out of the title race this season and the Italian himself is expected to underline that point at his weekly press conference today.
The Russian owner recognises that Ancelotti needs some help in shoring up his team that is without injured first-choice centre-back Alex who, as of yesterday, had still not returned from Brazil following surgery on a knee problem. Luiz is the long-term target that the club have been pursuing, although the £17m valuation that Benfica have put on the defender is regarded as excessively steep.
The willingness to back Ancelotti in the transfer market has reassured those within the club that he has the Russian's confidence. It is possible that the Luiz deal will yet be abandoned if it is pushed beyond Chelsea's valuation. The club are trying to steer a difficult course between staying competitive for the Champions League places and not disrupting their own plans to adapt to Uefa's new financial fair play model, the first phase of which was introduced last year.
The club's annual financial results which will come out in the next few weeks will show that, once again, Chelsea have made significant losses. However the club's chief executive Ron Gourlay hopes that the figures for the current financial year, due for release one year from now, will demonstrate that Chelsea can get close to Gourlay's predecessor Peter Kenyon's dream of breaking even.
A major spree on players now will disrupt Chelsea's carefully controlled financial planning. While the likes of Neymar, the 18-year-old Brazilian forward at Santos, are still targets, Chelsea are only prepared to make a major investment in the kind of player that they believe will make a significant long-term difference. There is a feeling that January is not the kind of time to make those signings.
There has been some consideration given to the loan signing of David Beckham for the next three months. However, the 35-year-old, who played under Ancelotti at Milan is not regarded as a viable option at the moment.
Ancelotti also has to make a decision on the request from striker Daniel Sturridge to go out on loan this month. Sturridge, who has attracted interest from Liverpool but earns wages of £60,000-a-week, scored five goals in Chelsea reserves' 7-3 win over a Tottenham XI at the Cobham training ground yesterday which was watched by Ancelotti.
The Chelsea manager repeated his usual mantra to the club's in-house television station that the spirit within his squad is not a problem. Certainly the feeling among the players is that they back Ancelotti, which was markedly different to this time two years ago when Scolari's regime began to falter, culminating in his abrupt sacking in February 2009.
Ancelotti said that his players were "angry with their form. The players are focused. They are working hard. They are staying together. There are no problems [in the squad] – they have a good spirit. There are a lot of reasons that can explain this moment, but that doesn't matter.
"Now we have to look forward, to the next game. We have to prepare well and we have above all to maintain confidence at this moment. It's very easy now to lose confidence. I think that on the training ground everything is OK. The players are working hard. They are angry and they want to move on quickly from this moment.
"I think that to move on quickly from this moment we have stay compact together. Not just the players, not just the manager, not just the staff – also all the people that are involved with this club with emotion with passion can do something to move on quickly from this moment."
Ancelotti at Stamford Bridge
Odds to be next manager sacked: 6/1
Chelsea record: P 85 W 54 D 14 L 17
League pos: 5th Appointed: 1 June 2009
Next game: Ipswich (h), Sunday
Next league game: Blackburn (h), 15 Jan
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