Carlo Ancelotti admitted yesterday that "something was wrong" with Chelsea this season as he spoke like a man who knew his time as the club's manager was drawing to a close.
The 51-year-old Italian is expected to be replaced this summer, with Roman Abramovich hoping to persuade Guus Hiddink to return to the club, and conceded that he could have done "better" during this campaign.
In a typically dignified and impressive press conference, Ancelotti said he would have "no problem" if he was dismissed, despite winning the Premier League and FA Cup last season and revealed that he was unsure of his future and had not received any reassurances.
If he is sacked, Ancelotti is due the final year of his £5m salary in compensation and would become the fifth manager to be disposed of by Abramovich, meaning the club will have paid a staggering £43m in compensation in less than seven years.
"I don't know what my future is," Ancelotti said. "At the end of the season, the club can decide if they want me to continue or if they want to change. If they are not happy, they can change. At the end, when the balls have stopped, we can speak about this."
Asked whether he could have done better during a season which is going to end without a trophy, he added: "I could do better. I don't have to justify (myself) because I have been working here for two years. I try to do my best every time."
Nevertheless, it has been a difficult campaign, with changes to his squad and the sacking of his assistant Ray Wilkins, which so unsettled Ancelotti.
"It's difficult to speak about this. Something was wrong," he said. "At the end of the season last year, we decided to move five players out and put the young players in. At the end of this season, it's the same. We have to speak about it at the end of the season, about what was wrong and what was good."
Chelsea face West Bromwich Albion away today in the Premier League and Ancelotti revealed that he had spoken to Abramovich in the wake of Tuesday's Champions League exit to Manchester United. "The tone of the conversation was very quiet, very calm. He was disappointed, as were we all." The manager said he had a "plan" for next season and how to improve the squad, but conceded that he had not yet been asked his opinion. "I hope I have a chance to discuss this," he said, sounding rather pessimistic.
The Turkish Football Federation has dismissed any notion of Hiddink being lured away and his agent, Cees van Nieuwenhuizen, said there was no chance of him being in charge at Stamford Bridge next season.
Chelsea will also consider approaches for Marco van Basten and Porto coach Andre Villas-Boas. (© Daily Telegraph, London)
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