Ancelotti continues to dream as Redknapp throws in the towel
Chelsea 2 Tottenham Hotspur 1
Monday 02 May 2011
It was nearly 24 hours before the significance of Saturday's errors by the men running the Stamford Bridge touchlines became evident. Only with Manchester United's loss to Arsenal and Manchester City's win over West Ham did the impact of a Chelsea equaliser which did not cross the line and an offside winner become clear.
For Chelsea, the title race is still very much on. Win at Old Trafford next week and the top two will be separated only by goal difference. For Tottenham, however, an instant return to the Champions League now seems highly unlikely, for they trail City by seven points with four matches remaining.
Chelsea's recovery, from 15 points adrift, has been remarkable; almost as remarkable as the fact its architect woke again to headlines suggesting his departure was imminent.
Rafael Benitez, Frank Rijkaard and Marco van Basten are the leading names in the frame to replace Ancelotti but it is hard to argue any of them represent a better chance of long-term success than the Italian, the only man to lead Chelsea to the Double.
While Chelsea captain John Terry stopped short of demanding Roman Abramovich retain him, his message was clear: the players back Ancelotti.
"We've got a great manager the players believe in and trust, and who has kept us going," he said. "[Ancelotti] deserves a great deal of credit. He took a lot of stick but he kept us going.
"Since we lost to Manchester United [in the Champions League] he's been brilliant. He spoke after 15 minutes of silence and said: 'Listen, we can make our season what we want it to be. We don't give up now, we continue right to the end, for our football club, for our supporters and for ourselves.'
"Over the next few days in training things were low but he picked everyone up and got them going again. He's kept everyone fresh and hungry and deserves a lot of credit for that."
The manager himself said if Chelsea were to pip Manchester United and successfully defend their title "it will be really strange", adding, "we have very little chance, because the title is not in our hands, but we have momentum."
The dream was still alive for Ancelotti but the Tottenham manager, Harry Redknapp, had given up on his. It is more likely that Spurs will finish behind Liverpool, but since that removes the onerous Europa League from next season's fixture, list Redknapp was not exactly distraught at the prospect.
No Champions Legaue football next season might make the likes of Gareth Bale and Luka Modric reconsider their future at the club but, said Redknapp, "we weren't in the Champions League when they came here so I don't see that being a problem. They know we're a good side, but what we've got to do is add one or two top-drawer players, show them we mean business, and get back in the Champions League."
Redknapp said he had yet to speak directly with chairman Daniel Levy about the issue but added, "I'm sure he's got to be positive – where do you go if you're not?"
Although Tottenham continue to lose more often than not against the leading teams, they showed enough at Stamford Bridge to justify Redknapp's belief that they "can play against anybody now", and were unfortunate to lose. Overdue goalline technology would have ruled Frank Lampard 45th-minute shot out, the cameras also proved Salomon Kalou was offside when he tapped in the 89th-minute winner. Not that many would go so far as to welcome technology deciding offside incidents.
Besides, assistant referees are not the only ones who err – Lampard's drive should never have gone anywhere near the line but Heurelho Gomes allowed it through his hands.
Booked: Chelsea Ivanovic, Terry, Drogba. Tottenham Pavlyuchenko.
Man of the match Modric
Referee A Marriner (West Midlands)
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