Muted send-off for Ancelotti as Abramovich prepares to strike
Chelsea 2 Newcastle United 2
Monday 16 May 2011
There was no emotional farewell yesterday for manager Carlo Ancelotti, who is expected to pay the price for Chelsea's worst season during the ownership of Roman Abramovich with his job.
Instead, the Italian cut an isolated figure as Stamford Bridge bade farewell to the Premier League crown. The stadium was less than a quarter-full when the players and coaching staff went on what was euphemistically called a "lap of appreciation".
Didier Drogba, who could also be leaving Chelsea in the summer, smiled and waved to those supporters who had stayed behind, while Ancelotti seemed a little uncomfortable by the occasion. "We have to wait just one week. A week is not a long period, and see what happens," the Italian said.
If, as expected, this proves to be Ancelotti's last home game in charge of Chelsea, then it was an unsatisfactory way for the Double-winning manager to leave. When his fellow Italian Claudio Ranieri was shown the door with similar ruthless disdain by Abramovich in 2004, he was afforded a grand farewell by the Chelsea supporters in his last game at the Bridge.
Not for Ancelotti however. The only time his name was chanted from the stands was after the game had finished and Abramovich had left. The indifference of the majority of Chelsea fans to Ancelotti's plight is perplexing, as this is the man who will forever be remembered for winning the Double in his first season. However, some supporters complain about a lack of passion from Ancelotti and moan that he too often follows the path of least resistance.
The visit of Newcastle summed up Chelsea's season – they started brilliantly, and were ahead by the second minute when Branislav Ivanovic bundled home Fernando Torres' near-post flick from a corner.
They then wobbled when Ryan Taylor's free-kick was deflected in off Jonas Gutierrez's back, before launching a late revival. Alex headed Chelsea in front with seven minutes to go, only for it all to go wrong with Steven Taylor's equaliser in the third minute of stoppage-time.
The Newcastle manager, Alan Pardew, said: "It was one of the most enjoyable goals I can think of. I was thrilled with some of the younger players' performances. It was a just result."
For Chelsea, the 18-year-old Josh McEachran looked tidy and composed in his first Premier League start, one of six changes made by Ancelotti to the team that lost 2-1 at Old Trafford last weekend. But another of them, the £50m man Torres, was simply awful, which does not bode well for whoever replaces Ancelotti at the helm.
Substitutes: Chelsea Malouda (Ramires, 64) Drogba (Benayoun, 64) Essien (McEachran, 64). Newcastle LuaLua (Ferguson, 69), Ranger (Gutierrez, 76), Samuel Ameobi (Lovenkrands, 82). Booked: Chelsea Ivanovic, Terry, Ramires, Lampard. Newcastle Enrique, Simpson.
Man of the match: S Taylor. Match rating: 6/10.
Possession: Chelsea 56% Newcastle 44%.
Attempts on target: Chelsea 7 Newcastle 7.
Referee: L Mason (Lancashire).
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