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Mystery over Wilkins departure from Chelsea

Chelsea assistant manager Ray Wilkins has been left shocked and angry after the Premier League champions chose not to renew his contract and asked him to leave with immediate effect.

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Wilkins told ESPNsoccernet that he is not prepared to comment but said that he has no idea why the club kicked him out of the door with such haste.

The mild-mannered Wilkins was in no mood to discuss an issue that has left him completely in the dark, although rumours are spreading like wildfire about the reasons behind his surprise departure.

One of the biggest rumours is that the club believe they acted in their best interests by sacking Wilkins, and had good cause to do so.

According to Chelsea insiders, Wilkins was sitting with Ancelotti in the Cobham stand by the touchline watching the reserves, and took a call from chief executive Ron Gourlay at half-time.

It is suggested that Ancelotti was powerless to intervene to prevent the axing of his assistant, for whom he had such deep admiration and to whom he gave due credit following Chelsea's Double success last season

Ancelotti hailed Wilkins in his autobiography, The Beautiful Games of an Ordinary Genius, writing: "Ray is one of those select few, always present, noble in spirit, a real blue-blood, Chelsea flows in his veins ... without him we wouldn't have won a thing."

Wilkins, a former Chelsea midfielder, assumed his role of assistant in 2008 when he was appointed as Luiz Felipe Scolari's number two. He often took up the role of Scolari's spokesman and was named caretaker boss when the Brazilian was sacked, before reverting to assistant manager under both Guus Hiddink and Carlo Ancelotti.

Chelsea chief executive Ron Gourlay said: "On behalf of everyone at the club I would like to thank Ray for everything he has done for Chelsea Football Club. We all wish him well for the future."

However, it remains a mystery, not only why Wilkins has been booted out unceremoniously, but who took the ultimate decision, which is proving unpopular with the Chelsea faithful.

It is also being suggested that the only way for the club to get back on track would be to appoint someone even more popular than Wilkins, such as former Stamford Bridge favourite Gianfranco Zola.

But if Ancelotti did get his way in appointing his own man, than it is being suggested that Paolo Maldini, with whom he worked for so long and successfully as manager and player at AC Milan, would be his choice.

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