Since about the Sunderland defeat, we've been treated to stories of how vulnerable Carlo Ancelotti is in his position as Chelsea manager. The Premier League is renowned for its high managerial turnover, with Chris Hughton and Sam Allardyce already gone this season (and several other managers under pressure). Chelsea haven't exactly been a bastion of stability since, well, ever, but things have been particularly chaotic since Jose Mourinho quit the club 'by mutual consent' in September of 2007. We've had Avram Grant, who lasted eight months, Felipe Scolari, who lasted seven, and Guus Hiddink, who served between February and May of 2009 under slightly unusual circumstances.
Then Carlo Ancelotti came into the picture two days later. He's the first manager since Mourinho to stay with the club for an entire year, and one of five managers in Premier League history to win the competition. He also won the FA Cup in his first year with the club, securing a historic double for the Blues immediately after a disappointing year. To top off his trophy achievements, he's had the Blues playing an attractive brand of attacking football that, when working, combines flair and power to devastating effect. Chelsea might have made the title race closer than they'd have liked, but they secured first place in frankly ridiculous fashion, beating Wigan Athletic by a score of 8-0 at Stamford Bridge.
Based on his first season, Carlo probably deserves to stick around for a while.
Things have gone somewhat pear-shaped in recent weeks however. Chelsea haven't played particularly well in the league since beating Arsenal 2-0 at home in October, winning just twice, losing three times, and drawing four games thanks to a combination of injuries, bad luck, and awful play. It's been a pretty awful run of form, and people are looking for scapegoats. My favourite is the idea that the dismissal of the assistant manager has somehow thrown the team into disarray, as though professional footballers would decide to put their earnings in jeopardy by sulk on the pitch over a man whose primary job appeared to be looking like an extra from Lord of the Rings on the sidelines.
The simple fact of the matter is that there's no easy scapegoat for the decline in Chelsea's standard of play over the last two months. Racking up injuries to key players certainly hasn't helped, and Didier Drogba soldiering on through malaria isn't really the best path towards fluid, attacking football. But Ancelotti's responses to his problems haven't been totally insane. He's recognised that there are issues, identified them, and tried to do something about it. The exact responses haven't been what I've wanted, and he favours veterans over youth much more than I'd like, but even that's kind of a weak argument, seeing as Chelsea have started a 17 year old in a third of their Champions League matches.
Simply put, people are being far too impatient with the man who led us to glory last season. We have 14 months of excellence on record from Ancelotti, compared to maybe two of dross. Besides, we're probably giving managers in general too much credit for the way their team plays anyway (hint: the players have something to do with this), so even if Chelsea are terrible right now, it's hardly all Carlo's fault. The rumours that he's on the way out, which have been growing louder and louder over the past few weeks, are hopefully nonsense - Ancelotti being forced out of Stamford after what he's done for the club would seem to me to be a big mistake.
If you believe the manager is responsible for everything about the team's play, consider last year and give Carlo a little more patience. Please.
Yeah, I'm talking to you, Roman.