There was little Carlo Ancelotti could do other than shrug his shoulders when the final whistle shrilled at Stamford Bridge at the end of an unexpected Jose Mourinho-inspired Inter Milan victory in the Champions League a fortnight ago.
The former AC Milan manager tasted defeat at the hands of his former Milanese rival and his new club were out of the trophy most coveted by their Russian Billionaire owner.
Reports in the following evening’s media suggested a mass summer clear-out following Abramovich’s impromptu visit to the Cobham training ground.
A transfer warchest of over £100 million was mentioned with names like Fernando Torres and David Villa bandied about as top summer transfer targets.
The dust hadn’t settled on a disappointing Champions League exit when Blackburn Rovers further compounded the Italian manager’s woes, earning a point at Chelsea’s expense at Ewood Park last Sunday thanks to a late Diouf header.
There can be no doubt that the Pensioners are going through one of their worst runs of the season at the most critical time of the campaign.
Since Ancelloti took over Chelsea have failed to win away in the Premier League on no less than eight occasions (4 draws and 4 losses) but a more damning statistic shows they have dropped over 15 points from winning positions in the league this season.
Despite reports of the Chelsea owner’s contentment with his latest managerial acquisition that is one statistic that even the Russian Oligarch cannot ignore.
This type of run would never have happened while Mourinho was in charge. No matter what Ancelotti goes on to achieve at Chelsea (if anything at all) his time will always be compared to the massive success of his Portuguese predecessor. Avram Grant, Guus Hiddink and Felipe Scolari all came and went under Mourinho’s shadow.
Ancelotti was brought in by Abramovich to (a) win back the Premier League, (b) eventually win the Champions League and (c) make Chelsea easier on the eye.
The Italian has succeeded in making the Blues more expansive going forward resulting in excellent returns from their strikers Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka.
The goals have dried up of late however and a crowded treatment room coupled with lurid media attention has only served to unsettle the Stamford Bridge club.
There are numerous reasons for Chelsea’s decline. The newspaper coverage of Ashley Cole’s marital issues with English media darling Cheryl Cole put the Blues on the front page of the papers for over a month.
However, that media intrusion paled in comparison to the seemingly never-ending John Terry saga which served to distract the club captain and led to a succession of below-par performances.
Ancelotti stood by his captain throughout this period and reiterated that he remains on as leader of the Chelsea dressing room despite Fabio Capello stripping the centre-back of the English Captaincy.
There is not a lot the Italian could have done in situations not of his making and had little choice but to publicly back his players.
Chelsea have also suffered their fair share of injuries (the absence of Michael Essien is a cruel blow) which has upset the balance of a previously settled squad.
The loss of full-backs Bosingwa and Cole has robbed Ancelotti of two of his most potent attacking threats. Without the marauding runs of their regular full-backs, Chelsea have come to over-rely on the likes of Ballack, Mikel and Lampard to create through the middle of the pitch.
This change in tactic has proven difficult with all three suffering losses of form in recent weeks. The Italians’ inability to inspire Chelsea through a difficult period has not gone unnoticed, with the English media pining for the days of Jose at every opportunity.
Carlo Ancelotti now faces a must-win game away to Portsmouth on Wednesday evening to get back in the title race and then an FA Cup semi-final hurdle to overcome in the shape of Aston Villa for what remains their best chance of silverware this term.
Ancelotti has already gone bullishly on record to state he expects to be the manager at Stamford Bridge at the start of next season.
But if Italian finishes a turbulent season trophyless, the knives may come out sooner than expected.