Being sacked isn’t normally good for anyone’s career, but strangely, it’s done wonders for Ray Wilkins. Prior to his dismissal from Chelsea, he was regarded as a popular club man and a loyal number two, with his ability to speak Italian coming in handy during Carlo Ancelotti’s early days at Stamford Bridge.
However, with the Italian boss now able to speak English fluently, and Roman Abramovich keen to reduce his outgoings, the Russian owner has deemed Wilkins and his £350k salary surplus to requirements.
After looking odds on to cruise to a second successive league title, Chelsea have subsequently lost their two Premier League fixtures since Wilkins’s departure, against Sunderland and Birmingham City, leading some to attribute the former England captain’s absence as the reason for these shock defeats.
In reality, Wilkins's influence at Chelsea was probably somewhere between the two. It would be naive to herald him as the mastermind behind the club’s recent success, but labelling his role as merely that of a glorified translator would be doing him a disservice also.
Having started the season so brightly though, the controversy surrounding Wilkins has definitely rocked the boat. Not just because he was a popular figure within the dressing room, but more significantly, because Ambramovich made the decision against his manager's will.
Interestingly, upon agreeing to become Chelsea manager in May 2009, Ancelotti was deemed the most suitable candidate because he had experience of working for a powerful and influential owner, having coped adeptly under the unpredictable leadership of Silvio Berlusconi at Milan.
Abramovich has involved himself in first-team affairs before, so it should be no surprise he’s done it again. But the unconcerned Italian was expected to be able to toe the party line and get on with the job, yet he’s clearly discontented at having his position compromised.
These are uncertain times at Stamford Bridge. For now, Ancelotti's position is still far from untenable, but if the club’s billionaire owner continues to undermine his authority, Ray Wilkins may not be the only former Chelsea employee on the lookout for a new job.
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