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English Premiership

Ancelotti admits dodging bullet

COBHAM, January 5 – Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti admits he is lucky not to have been sacked after his side's dismal run.Just seven months after leading Chelsea to their first Premier League and FA Cup double, Ancelotti knows he is in danger of becoming the latest high-profile boss to perish at the hands of Roman Abramovich’s axe.

Blues owner Abramovich sacked Jose Mourinho, Luiz Felipe Scolari and Avram Grant after far less disappointing results than Ancelotti’s current miserable streak of one win in eight league games, which has seen the champions slip to the fringes of the title race.

It is safe to say the Russian billionaire is hardly the most patient of owners and Chelsea’s current struggles have placed Ancelotti firmly on the hot seat.

Even the man himself readily admits he wouldn’t have been surprised to have been ushered out of Stamford Bridge by now.

"I am a lucky man, I said that a lot of times!" Ancelotti said. "I understand that a lot of coaches are sacked with these results. I can say I am a lucky man."

While Ancelotti acknowledges that he is unlikely to keep his job if Chelsea continue to struggle, the former AC Milan boss insists he should only be judged at the end of the season.

After winning the Premier League last year, Ancelotti has targeted the Champions League this term and the Blues, who have a relatively easy tie against Danish minnows Copenhagen in the last 16, could still achieve that aim.

"It is difficult to say how I should be judged now. In the restuarant you pay the bill when you have finished the meal. Here it is the same. We have to pay the bill at the end of the season," Ancelotti said.

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"At the end of the season the club can judge my job and everything else. Success in the Champions League is the best food. I tasted it sometimes and it is good food."

Ancelotti’s ability to persuade the club to back him in the January transfer window will be key to Chelsea’s chances.

Abramovich has kept the Stamford Bridge cheque book firmly locked away for the last 12 months and Chelsea’s squad has stagnated as a result.

When the likes of Didier Drogba, Frank Lampard, Michael Essien and Alex have been injured, Ancelotti has had few options to turn to other than untried youngsters.

He revealed he has been talking to the board about new signings, with a central defender believed to be high on his list of priorities.

"It is difficult for me to speak about the players we are looking at. If I speak the price goes up," Ancelotti said.

"But I can say we are moving and looking at the market to find the right solution.

"It is important because we had problems in the last two months with injuries. We want to improve our squad. Everyone in the club knows what the problem was and we have to improve there.

"We didn’t speak about money. We are looking for a young player. Not too old but with experience and with the possibility that he doesn’t need time to adapt.

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"Chelsea doesn’t look to the price. If we think the player is good for the team we don’t have a problem."

The Blues’ travails in recent weeks have been perceived in some quarters as concrete evidence that Ancelotti’s squad is now too old to win the big prizes.

But, although there are several over-30s in the Chelsea team, Ancelotti has no doubts they are still hungry for success.

"If you have to judge the Chelsea players now, you can say that they are old, they have lost motivation, they are not good. But we have to wait, we have to calm down. I’m sure these are fantastic players because nothing changed in two or three months," Ancelotti said.

"If everything is ok we are able to come back for the title also without any new players. I am sure of this."

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