World is not enough for Ancelotti

December 19, 2007
By Dominic Raynor
(Archive)

Beleaguered AC Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti earned some rare praise this week as the Rossoneri cruised to victory in FIFA's Club World Cup final, but the win may not be enough to save his job.

GettyImages / GiuseppeCacaceAncelotti's successes have been in Europe

The Italian club took time out from their dire showing in Serie A to thrash Boca Juniors 4-2 in Yokohama, Japan, as Kaka justified his FIFA World Player of the Year crown with a scintillating performance that included two assists and a goal for himself.

However, Milan's success in FIFA supremo Sepp Blatter's pet project failed to paper over the cracks of a disappointing domestic campaign and with former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho apparently waiting in the wings Ancelotti's days appear to be numbered.

Milan have failed to win a single game at the San Siro this season and languish in 11th place, 22 points behind league leaders and city rivals Internazionale. Ancelotti won the Champions League with Milan last season and only his team's progress to the knock-out phase of this year's competition has prevented his demise.

To make matters worse, Mourinho has moved out of the shadows and into the spotlight and is ready to pounce if Milan opt for a change of coach, or, as Ancelotti alleges, are talked into doing so by the silver-tongued Portuguese.

The Milan manager suggests that it was Mourinho who contacted the Rossoneri as part of his search for a new high-profile club to coach and not the other way around. However, Mourinho denies that is the case and insists he has never contacted the club 'directly or indirectly' but hinted that Milan may well have contacted him.

The former Porto boss was a leading contender for the England job and is accused of stringing the FA along in order to raise his media profile and force an approach from some of Europe's biggest clubs. Whether that is the case or not Mourinho's association with England certainly saw him linked with Juventus, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Inter and AC Milan; although links to most of those clubs have been denied, or simply abated, the Milan deal persists.

The Italian press persevere with the story and Rossoneri president Silvio Berlusconi has reportedly made a £10million offer to Mourinho, who won the Champions League with Porto and two Premier League titles with Chelsea, to succeed Ancelotti.

Speaking at press conference in Yokohama Ancelotti acknowledged that he was well aware of all the newspaper talk.

'I read an article in the Italian papers about Mourinho,' he said. 'Milan were supposed to have offered him my job. They may have done but I haven't been informed by the club that there has been a formal offer.'

But the 48-year-old Italian, who has led the Rossoneri for six years, added: 'If Mourinho does want the job it just gives me extra motivation.'

If Mourinho takes a job before next summer he will forfeit 40 per cent of his £20million settlement with Chelsea and that may give a newly motivated Ancelotti a deadline to save his job.


Kahn't keep his mouth shut

Bayern Munich goalkeeper Oliver Kahn took a leaf out of the Roy Keane handbook and blasted his underachieving team-mates in the media following a run of disappointing results.

GettyImages / JohannesSimonKahn back in training after outburst

Keane's famous rant on MUTV, that ultimately forced Alex Ferguson to ship him out of Manchester United, was pulled before it was aired but Kahn's diatribe was published by Kicker and resulted in a slap on the wrist from Bayern coach Ottmar Hitzfeld, a one match ban and €25,000 fine.

Kahn accused Franck Ribery and fellow summer arrival Luca Toni of failing to understand what is required of players at Bayern.

'It is not good enough to make a bright start. One or two (players) have got to work out that two or three good games are not enough,' blasted the outspoken keeper.

'Bayern is not Marseille [Ribery] or Fiorentina [Toni]; we are like Real, Man United, Barca or Milan,' the 38-year-old added.

Bayern's form may have dipped of late but the Munich club still lead the Bundesliga and Toni and Ribery have been outstanding in the first-half of the season, while Kahn's place has been under threat from Michael Rensing.

Sour Grapes? Well Toni is the club's joint leading scorer with 9 goals and Ribery just picked up the French Footballer of the Year award.

Speaking at the ceremony on Sunday, Ribery delivered his own rebuke to Kahn, who has since eaten humble pie and apologised, insisting the fallen Bayern figurehead should have made his feelings known in the dressing-room and not through the media.

'I would have preferred him to say that to me face to face rather than via the papers,' he said.

Kahn was suspended by the club for Saturday's goalless draw at Hertha Berlin, and must fight to reclaim his place from Rensing as the Bundesliga heads into the winter break.


Steaua scrooge won't pay players

Steaua Bucharest's eccentric owner Gigi Becali is set to treat his players like sheep players in a bid to save his team from a disappointing season.

Becali said he employed a survival of the fittest strategy when he started his working life as a shepherd and will transfer the system to his playing staff.

'When I was a shepherd, I was killing the old sheep for meat and I was selling the lame sheep to replace them with new, young sheep able to produce healthy lambs,' Becali explained... sort of.

Although he is something of an oddball Becali does not intend to slaughter his players but will cut payments, wages and bonuses before dropping seven or eight of them in the winter break.

'They (the players) must borrow money from the banks if they want to spend some for Christmas day,' said Scrooge.

Becali, a successful real estate businessman whose is estimated to be worth €3billion, is unhappy that his team sit fourth in the Romanian League, have been dumped out of the Romanian Cup and finished bottom of their Champions League group.


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