Chelsea Chief Executive Ron Gourlay has said that the club will assess Carlo Ancelotti, the manager, and his position at the club come the end of the season.
The two-time Champions League winning manager won the double during his first season at Stamford Bridge last season, but the Blues have struggled to maintain those high standards during the current campaign.
The reigning Premier League champions are currently nine points off the pace in the title race after a mid-season slump, whilst they were also knocked out of both the League Cup and the FA Cup.
Nonetheless a recent improvement has seen the Blues emerge as title outsiders once more after recent wins over Manchester United and Manchester City – beating the latter 2-0 this afternoon – whilst Ancelotti’s side have reached the Champions League quarter-finals.
Speaking to BBC Sportsweek, prior to this afternoon’s match, Gourlay said that Ancelotti, whose contract ends in July 2012, would be judged at the end of the current campaign.
“Carlo has a contract until end of 2012,” Gourlay told the BBC.
“Let’s see where we are at the end of May then we’ll judge the coach and other people at the football club.
“We understand it’s difficult to win trophies every year. However, we also know it’s very important for the club to be competing in latter stages.
“We’ve invested lot of money in the academy and in the playing side. This is a pressure you have to live with day-to-day if you want to be at Chelsea.”
Nevertheless, despite the additional pressure Gourlay’s comments would seem to have put on Ancelotti, he was also full of praise for the Italian and his experience.
“Carlo is a world class coach,” he said.
“You look at his record and it speaks for itself. His record at Chelsea in a short time, winning the double in the first season in a new league, coming out of Italy, is a great feat.
“This is a strong, competitive league, but his knowledge of the game is second to none and he holds a dressing room well.
“He’s won the Champions League twice as a coach and twice as a player so he’s been there and done it.”
Editor’s Comment: What a stupid time for the Chelsea Chief Executive to come out and make these comments, heaping pressure on Carlo Ancelotti.
Just as the sides season appears to be getting back on track, both in the Premier League and in Europe, Gourlay’s comments will almost certainly rock the boat. He may have felt that they were harmless, but they are just completely unnecessary.
The rumours circulating concerning Ancelotti returning to Italy with Roma won’t go away, and you can’t blame the Italian if he feels as though it would be best if he jumps and leaves Stamford Bridge before he is pushed with his position as manager apparently being undermined from above.