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Carlo Ancelotti Provides Fascinating Insight To The Workings Of Roman Abramovich

Carlo Ancelotti Provides Fascinating Insight To The Workings Of Roman Abramovich
By Gavin Cooney

Rarely, in football, has a someone so ubiquitous been so inscrutable. It is impossible to watch a Chelsea game without the camera panning to Abramovich in the stands. Abramovich has arguably had a greater influence on English football than anyone else, yet he has given just one TV interview in English: a one-minute appearance as part of a Sky Sports' 'My Special Day' show with a young fan from Skerries.

We now have a bit more information about what it is like to work with Abramovich now, however, thanks to one of his myriad former managers, Carlo Ancelotti. The Italian has used his recent time out of football to write a book entitled Quiet Leadership: Winning Hearts, Minds and Matches. Ancelotti uses his experience of working with Abramovich to illustrate the importance of confronting your boss when he makes it difficult for you.

An excerpt from the book was serialised in today's London Times which shone light on Abramovich's character, and the man portrayed is a man obsessed with winning, who has no issue with meddling in team affairs. Ancelotti recalls his "glorious" start at Chelsea, winning 14 of his first 16 games. During that run of games, Chelsea suffered what Ancelotti terms a "blip" in the form of a 3-1 defeat to Wigan. Abramovich was unwilling to tolerate such a blip.

It was just a blip, to my mind, something that happens in football, but Abramovich came to the training ground the next morning to demand answers. I tried to listen and not respond impulsively, but maybe I should have had some answers ready for him and been more prepared. I should have recognised this as my first red flag. It was a new type of relationship for me with an owner — even Berlusconi had not been so demanding.

The level of interference in team affairs from Abramovich is extraordinary, and a single bad result brought with it intense pressure. This came to a head before the second-leg of the 2011 Champions League semi-final against Manchester United:

The night before the second leg, Abramovich addressed the players, telling them they had to win or there would be huge changes to the team. He told me individually that if we lost then I was not to bother coming back to work. I wasn’t sure if he was serious. We lost and I did go back to work, though I felt like a dead man walking.

Ancelotti was sacked a month later. It is a fascinating article, read the entire post here.

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