Patrick Collins: Football's lunacy knows no bounds when a man must face the axe for finishing second

22 May 2011 01:11
ShareA few minutes before six o'clock thisevening, Carlo Ancelotti will emerge from the technical area at Goodison Park. He will shake the hand of the Everton manager David Moyesbefore walking across to acknowledge the Chelsea fans at the away end. Then he will disappear into the tunnel, his season over and his future perilously uncertain.

Twelve months ago, with an FA Cup andPremier League Double freshly acquired, there was a spring in his step.No longer. In the space of a season, he has apparently become a poor manager, a fumbling clown who finishes second in the league and reaches the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

Such a record should not go unpunished and the signs suggest that Ancelotti's head will be served upon a plate some time this week.

He sounds philosophical: 'If they decide to change, it's not a problem. You won't see me crying.'

Yet this is a professional of real distinction, a coach who won two Champions League titles with Milan before moving on to the triumphs at Chelsea. He has his dignity and his pride, and even a casually scribbled cheque from Roman Abramovich may not compensate for the damage to both.

Goodbye to all that? The dignified and genial Carlo Ancelotti bade farewell to Stamford Bridge for the season following the draw with Newcastle

If the Chelsea owner does dismiss hismanager, then several things will happen. The suits at Stamford Bridge will instantly pledge their unswerving loyalty to the harsh-butfair billionaire. The players will pay lip service to their fallen leader: 'Lads are gutted . top, top bloke, Carlo . loved him to bits.'

And the fans will shrug indifferently, before demanding a manager who can guarantee something called 'silverware'.

Meanwhile, the outside world looks onin bemusement. Ancelotti would be the fourth manager that the Russian has sacked in eight years at Chelsea. Each has departed in a shower of bank notes but nobody seems to mind.

Having lavished almost three-quarters of a billion pounds on the club, Abramovich can do what he likes. After all, it is only money and oligarchs have rather a lot of it.

Unpleasant viewing: An unsmiling Roman Abramovich (centre) watches as Manchester United eliminate Chelsea from the Champions League

And that is the attitude which those outsiders find quite impossible to understand. You see, the Premier League is the modern Land of Oz, a place where the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true.

Last week brought the extraordinary revelation that last year, 16 of the 20 clubs made losses totalling ?484million. This despite a combined income of ?2.1billion. And this despite 16 clubs having owners who have ploughed in ?2.3bn since they took over. Consider those figures, contemplate that madness and note that the clubs still contrived to pay ?1.4bn in wages.

Yet these are the people who arrogantly disdain UEFA's attempts to impose a civilised measure of financial fair play on the raging chaos.

For they live in a land where debt isgood and steepling debts are even better and troubles melt like lemon drops. The richest league the world has seen is haemorrhaging cash like abroken slot machine, yet still it makes multimillionaires of mundane players and rapacious agents, and nobody calls a halt or pulls a plug.

  More from Patrick Collins. Patrick Collins: The noisy neighbours have something to shout about now14/05/11 Patrick Collins: Federer and Woods know time at the top is almost over14/05/11 PATRICK COLLINS: How the FA duped and humiliated David Cameron and Prince William14/05/11 Patrick Collins: Pity the Premier League now it has to put up with Neil Warnock07/05/11 Patrick Collins: Who'd give Jose a job after this night of shame?30/04/11 Patrick Collins: Football is fooling itself if it thinks it has driven hatred out23/04/11 A Blue Moon over Wembley: Toure leaves elated City faithful dreaming17/04/11 Patrick Collins: Lampard butters up the boss that really counts16/04/11 VIEW FULL ARCHIVE Because that is not the way they do things in Oz. The climate is chillingly similar to that which prevailed in this country at the peak of the property boom, when suburban dinner-parties would slurp their Sauvignon and estimate how much their house had increased in value since the soup was served.

Even those of us with the financial acumen of a frisbee could sense that the crash was inevitable and only its date was in doubt.

So it is with football. While the rest of the nation suffers stern cuts, transfer fees grow season by season.

Did Manchester City really pay ?27m to Wolfsburg for Edin Dzeko? Indeed they did, and somehow it seems even more extreme than the ?50m Chelsea paid Liverpool for Fernando Torres.

And salaries became a matter of think-of-a-figure and treble it. Take Kieron Dyer, as West Ham frequently say. He is far from being the best rewarded player in our game but the thought that the Hammers ever deemed him worth ?83,000 a week still staggers the imagination.

And managers, of course. Expensive to employ and still more expensive to sack. When Chelsea dispensed with Jose Mourinho and his assistants, followed by Avram Grant, the total bill reached ?23m.

When they sent Luiz Felipe Scolari on his way, his pockets were filled with some ?7m. Now Abramovich is said to be preparing to hand his latest manager the kind of sum which spills off a calculator, before setting off in search of an even more expensive employee.

Carlito's way: Ancelotti has won the European Cup twice as a player and twice as a manager

Since that manager deserves to stay, it is proper that his departure should carry a cost. Yet the whole affair, insignificant in itself, would impart another tweak to the carousel, accelerating the lunacy.

The game still holds the power to captivate and inspire. Next Saturday at Wembley, the two most beguiling teams in Europe will contest the final of the Champions League. If Barcelona and Manchester United should play to their reputations, it will be wonderful beyond words.

But such events are as rare as they are precious.

Too often, our football reflects the shallow, short-term values of the people who effectively control it. The kind of ethos which systematically squanders a stupendous windfall, or treats debt as an occasional hazard. Or discards a decent man with a wave of the wallet.

RUGBY MISSES CHANCE TO HIT VIOLENCE ON THE HEADA week on, and still the pictures are shocking. The three punches which Leicester's Manu Tuilagi hurled at the head of Chris Ashton of Northampton were surely as violent as anything that modern rugby has seen.

The RFU, who really have not had a good week, missed the chance to punish appropriately.

Instead of five months, the disciplinary panel came up with a vapid five-week suspension, with Judge Jeff Blackett declaring his confidence that 'Tuilagi will learn a valuable lesson from this'. It was predictably platitudinous, as was the reaction of the Leicester head coach Richard Cockerill.

Sinning Saint: Manu Tuilagi hits Chris Ashton

At first, Cockerill announced that he had not seen the incident. Then he conceded that Tuilagi had 'reacted poorly'. Then he lapsed into pompous cliche: 'I'm not there to please anybody. I'm there to do my job. And I do it very well.'

Had it happened on a football pitch, the heavens would have fallen. But there is a feeling that rugby too easily tolerates violence. It should work harder to erase that perception, and if it costs the sport some sadistic followers, then so be it.

After all, sadists have an alternative, an event at which punches are thrown, insults screeched and blood spilled. It is known as the West Ham United end-of-season relegation party.

DEFOE'S DAY TO FORGETSay what you will about Harry Redknapp, but he can still swat an irritant in a handful of sentences.

Jermain Defoe, than whom there are few more irritating, has been complaining about his lack of first-team opportunities at Tottenham.

Defoe, who has scored just four league goals all season, has only the good of the club at heart. He also says he is afraid that Spurs' chances of qualifying for the Champions League next season may be affected by having to play in the Thursday-evening Europa League.

Dry patch: Jermain Defoe's days at White Hart Lane would appear numbered

Redknapp lost patience. 'I'll give him Thursdays off,' he said. 'Maybe he's busy Thursday nights. We'll have to organise ourselves around that one. But if he can make it, we'd love him to play.'

A sensitive soul would have been devastated by the sarcasm. But I fear it may be wasted on Jermain Defoe.

PSReports from Mumbai say the dismissal was a cracker. The fourth ball of the leg-spinner's final over brought the batsman charging down the pitch.

Beaten in flight, he swung so frantically that he lost his bat. The wicketkeeper removed the bails, and it was over: Sharma stumped Shah bowled Warne, 58.

Bowing out: Shane Warne brought an end to his magnificent career, which include 708 Test wickets for Australia

It was the final wicket of an incomparable career. With so many distractions to hand, Warne has probably forgotten it already. But cricket will never forget Shane Warne. The best of his time. The best of all time.

 Explore more:People: David Moyes, Harry Redknapp, Kieron Dyer, Fernando Torres, Jose Mourinho, Edin Dzeko, Shane Warne, Roman Abramovich, Luiz Felipe Scolari, Jermain Defoe, Carlo Ancelotti Places: Barcelona, Liverpool, Milan, Mumbai, Europe

Source: Daily_Mail