Chelsea confirm Ancelotti departure
Chelsea tonight confirmed they had parted company with manager Carlo Ancelotti, the Italian leaving his post less than two hours after this afternoon's final Premier League game of the season at Everton, which the Blues lost 1-0.
That heralded the end of their worst season since Roman Abramovich bought the club in 2003, with Ancelotti failing to win a trophy in what was his second year at the helm. The club said in a statement on their official website: "Chelsea Football Club can confirm that Carlo Ancelotti parted company with the club today [Sunday 22 May].
"The owner and board would like to thank Carlo for his contribution and achievements since taking over as manager in July 2009, which included winning the Double for the first time in the club's history.
"However, this season's performances have fallen short of expectations and the club feels the time is right to make this change ahead of next season's preparations. Carlo will always be welcome at Stamford Bridge, where he will be given the reception and respect his position in our history deserves.
"Chelsea's long-term football objectives and ambitions remain unchanged and we will now be concentrating all our efforts on identifying a new manager. There will be no further comment until that appointment is made."
Second season lacked silverware
Ancelotti won the club's first ever Premier League and FA Cup double in his maiden season in charge last year but his side have ended their latest campaign empty-handed.
Rumours Ancelotti was to depart grew after the club crashed out of the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals against Manchester United and his fate was ultimately sealed when a late title charge ended with defeat to the same opponents.
Ancelotti was recruited from AC Milan two years ago partly because of his reputation as a Champions League specialist. But his two attempts with Chelsea at the trophy Abramovich craves the most arguably saw the club go backwards, as they twice suffered earlier-than-expected exits.
Circumstances cost Ancelotti
The Italian's departure will nevertheless elicit a great deal of sympathy, with there being several mitigating circumstances for this season's failure. The decision to allow five senior players to leave last summer and focus more on youngsters appeared to backfire when injuries struck the spine of the team.
That coincided with the shock sacking of assistant manager Ray Wilkins, which was immediately followed by the club's worst run in the league for almost 15 years. The January arrival of Fernando Torres also arguably had a destabilising effect at a time when Chelsea looked to be getting their season back on track.
Ancelotti is unlikely to be out of work for long, with former club Roma currently seeking a new coach. He has expressed a desire to stay in England but, despite diplomatic responses to any interest he might have in taking over a team outside the top six, that seems a non-starter.
Chelsea, meanwhile, will start next season with their seventh manager in just eight years since Abramovich's takeover. Guus Hiddink is reportedly the Russian's No1 target, with FC Porto sensation Andre Villas-Boas also heavily touted.