Carlo Ancelotti appears set to survive the season at Chelsea after the club insisted it was "business as usual'' following their Champions League exit.
Ancelotti hints at error
Speculation is raging in the English press as to who might replace Ancelotti in the Blues hotseat, with Guus Hiddink, Marco van Basten, Marcello Lippi and Andre Villas Boas all mentioned, but if a change does occur it will likely come in the summer.
Hiddink's agent, Cees van Nieuwenhuizen, said in the Daily Telegraph that Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich "understands" that Hiddink does not want to break his contract with the Turkish Football Federation, with the former Blues caretaker to stay on well into next season depending on results.
"Guus will respect his contract with Turkey," Van Nieuwenhuizen said. "And because the results are going the way they are it looks like Turkey will qualify for the play-offs if they draw with Belgium on June 3 and with Austria in September. If they do not qualify for the play-offs he has already said that he will go. But from a technical point of view it is not possible for him to join Chelsea right now. It has nothing to do with his relationship with Roman Abramovich, which is good, but Guus has never broken a contract and Roman understands."
ESPNsoccernet, though, has been informed by a source that Abramovich remains hopeful Hiddink will change his mind, and that any decision on Ancelotti will be delayed until he is convinced there is no hope of persuading the Dutchman to return.
Chelsea's only remaining target is to qualify for next season's Champions League, a goal Ancelotti can achieve with steady results in the Premier League, so a change now might only serve to destabilise the squad. It is understood there have been no meetings between Abramovich and board members, or between board members themselves, to discuss the manager's position.
Chelsea's quarter-final loss to Manchester United, which was sealed on Tuesday night, left them on the brink of ending a season without a trophy for only the third time since Abramovich bought the club almost eight years ago. The Russian sacked the manager on the two previous occasions and Ancelotti could be forgiven for fearing the same fate.
But a spokesman said: "It's business as usual. The most important thing is to win all the games we can in the league and qualify for the Champions League.''
Goalkeeper Petr Cech has insisted Chelsea's players are just as much to blame as Ancelotti for what could be the club's worst campaign since Abramovich's takeover. ESPNsoccernet reported on Wednesday that a number of the Blues' biggest names are under threat in the wake of their disappointment form this term.
The current season looks destined to represent a new low, with the Blues having suffered earlier-than-expected exits in every cup competition, as well as languishing 11 points behind United in the Premier League.
But while the buck may ultimately stop with Ancelotti - who did win the Double in his first season in charge last year - goalkeeper Cech has claimed everyone needs to take a look at themselves.
"We win together, we lose together,'' Cech said after what was the latest Champions League disappointment of his seven-year Stamford Bridge career. "We are on the same boat and we try to guide the boat to the harbour as safely as possible.''
Failing to keep hold of Ancelotti next season would be a mistake, according to former Chelsea captain Paul Elliott.
Elliott said: "Okay, he's picked up nothing this year, but they need to back their man. I think he's the best manager long-term. He's got the ability to manage the egos, he can manage multi-million pound players.''
Elliott believes Abramovich's patience will ultimately hold.
He added: "I'll tell you the reason I don't fear: I love the way Ancelotti handles the pressure. I think he's got tremendous confidence and, be assured, if he left Chelsea, he's only going on to better things.''