Ancelotti time running out
Published: 23.12.12 / Written by: David Gold
Carlo Ancelotti knows what it is like to be teetering on the edge of the sack.
He had a particularly dragged out end to his Chelsea reign, the axe seemingly inevitable for the last three months of his tenure before he was finally relieved of his duties a year after guiding the club to the domestic double. Now, coach of Paris St Germain, his days appear numbered once again. The Parisians have been looking at Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho, if reports are to be believed, and it seems only a matter of time before the Italian is replaced.
He is putting up a good fight though. Recent weeks have seen his side deploy a 4-4-2 system which gets the best out of the array of talents at their disposal, with Ezequiel Lavezzi forming a fiersome strikeforce alongside Zlatan Ibrahimovic. On the wings, Jeremy Menez and Javier Pastore are causing havoc, with Blaise Matuiti and Thiago Motta proving crucial in the centre of the pitch.
This system has been highly effective, as the 4-4-2 has always been a good formation in terms of the fact that it gives a side four primary attackers against the opposition’s four man defence, which means good movement will enable runners from further back to find holes to pick through. The 4-4-2’s weakness is that just two men in central midfield can be overpowered. In France, where attrition and the battle is a key part of the tactical game, this is important. However, Motta and Matuidi are so strong that they are able to negate the negative effects of the formation. Thus, Ancelotti has been doing some sterling work saving his skin potentially, with his team climbing back to the top of the league with a 1-0 win over Lyon last weekend, the previous league leaders.
However, the Qatari owners of the club are still mindful that it took Ancelotti a year to get some cohesion out of his expensively assembled side. They have lacked identity and a real style of play since his arrival, with constant tinkering and changes undermining any progress that they have been looking to make. Ancelotti has also been a fan of the central midfield three, which are more often than not primarily defensive. Marco Verratti, so impressive at the start of the season, has been sacrificed in the new look Paris St Germain by Ancelotti.
It still feels like a last hurrah of sorts though for the former AC Milan coach. Ancelotti has been linked with Real Madrid and has reportedly let Arsenal know that he would be interested in taking over if Arsene Wenger was to leave. That would underline that Ancelotti is only too aware of the precarious nature of his position at present. One bad result this weekend and he could find himself out of a job in theory before the French league resumes again in January. After all, it was a year ago when Antoine Kombouare was fired despite leading the team to the top of the table. Ancelotti will have to do something special to avoid the same fate.