European woes damn Ancelotti

TWELVE months ago Carlo Ancelotti was toasting the Double after an exemplary first season in England. This morning he is jobless, the latest manager to be discarded by Chelsea in Roman Abramovich’s quest for perfection.

Sympathy will not be hard to come by, and not just because of the Italian’s easy-going charm.

Yet Ancelotti’s departure had looked inevitable for weeks if not months. His failure to arrest a mid-season slump ultimately cost Chelsea the Premier League title.

Arguably even more wounding for him, however, has been his record in the Champions League.

It is said that Ancelotti’s enviable Continental pedigree – he has lifted the European Cup twice as coach and once as a player – played a huge part in his recruitment by Abramovich, who yearns to bring the trophy to Chelsea.

But in his two seasons at the helm they departed the competition in the first knockout round and then the quarter-finals. That is worse than they managed in the two previous years, having reached the final and then the semi-final – statistics that damn him more than anything else.