2016/17 Champions League
Published: 09:35 20/02/2011
Carlo Ancelotti faces a seminal week that could determine his career after Chelsea were knocked out of the FA Cup on penalties to Everton at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
Ancelotti has already conceded the Premier League title and now Chelsea are out of both domestic cup competitions leaving the UEFA Champions League the club’s only hope of silverware this season. With a place in next season’s Champions League in jeopardy as the Blues flounder two points from a qualifying position in fifth, a speedy return to winning Premier League form is also urgently required.
The pressure is mounting on the Italian tactician in a week that could make or break his tenure at the club. On Tuesday Chelsea travel to Denmark to face FC Copenhagen in the first leg of their Champions League knock out tie and a week later they entertain Manchester United in the Premier League. Defeat in Denmark could see the knives come out for Ancelotti as he was employed to bring the elusive Champions League trophy to West London for owner Roman Abramovich.
Last season’s domestic double was a small feather in the Italian’s cap but his main target was to emulate his achievement with AC Milan and deliver European success for Chelsea. Abramovich has backed his manager by gambling more than £70million in the January transfer window with the purchase of Fernando Torres and David Luiz. The Russian has shown his ruthless streak in the past and failure to provide a return on the investment could see Ancelotti heading back to Italy where there have been rumblings that he is wanted by Roma.
The Champions League final will be held in London this year, with Arsenal and Tottenham being well placed to progress to the quarter-finals it will be galling for Chelsea to be the first London club to fold from the challenge of representing the city in the showcase event.
The importance is not lost on Ancelotti, who said: “I said at the start of the season that maybe the Champions League would be more important because we won the Premier League last year and the next step is the Champions League.
“The club have never won the competition, the final is in London and no London team has ever won the Champions League. There are a lot of reasons that can make it more important.”