WITH his hopes of retaining their Premier League title looking forlorn after Wednesday’s 1-0 defeat at Wolverhampton, Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti comes under increasing pressure to do well in the FA Cup.
The Londoners are holders and have won the competition three times in the last four years, and to keep his job Ancelotti needs another long run in the FA Cup and also to do well in the knock-out stages of the Champions League.
Defeat – or even a draw – against Ipswich Town in Sunday’s third round tie at Stamford Bridge would sorely test Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich’s continuing faith in his current manager and it could be argued that Ancelotti is going into the game under more pressure than Ipswich boss Roy Keane.
Statistics show that over the last 11 games Chelsea are the worst team in the league with just 10 points.
Ancelotti is being accused of having few ideas about how to get the Londoners out of their current demise.
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Claudio Ranieri, Jose Mourinho, Avram Grant and Luiz Felipe Scolari were all sacked by Russian mogul Abramovich and they must be wondering how Ancelotti has survived performing far worse than they ever did.
Scolari was manager when Town lost 3-1 at the fourth round stage of the FA Cup at Stamford Bridge two years ago Ipswich will be looking to capitalise on Chelsea’s current shortcomings.
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Ancelotti is set to name a full strength side as he knows the importance of a victory and a boost before his team takes on Copenhagen at the end of next month searching for a place in the Champions League quarter-final.
Petr Cech, John Terry and Branislav Ivanovic are immune from criticism but the likes of Ashley Cole, Florent Malouda, Michael Essien and Nicolas Anelka are not having the best of times while Didier Drogba has lost much of his vigour since contracting malaria in October.
Chelsea spent �24million on the unproven Ramires and uninspired Yossi Benayoun in the summer, but are reported to have turned down the chance to sign Rafael van der Vaart from Real Madrid before the Dutchman moved to Tottenham.
When Ray Wilkins was controversially removed as assistant coach three months into the season things were going well.
Wilkins may not have made a major contribution to the side but he was a steady influence behind the scenes and the manner of his exit unnecessarily rocked the boat.
The feeling among many Chelsea fans is that it wouldn’t be that big a shock if they lose to Ipswich.
It is a competition that Chelsea have had a love affair with in recent seasons with Ancelotti admiting Chelsea are simply not good enough at the moment,
“I think it’s obvious we are not good enough in this moment,” he said.
“But the team has the skill, the ability, the character, the personality to move on.”
Asked if he was confident he was the right man for the job, the Italian added: “Yes, I know this team very well and I’m sure than this moment will change and we will be able to fight for everything this season.”