thumbnail Hello,

Goal.com's Ewan Macdonald examines some of Carletto's darker nights...

There's no doubting that Carlo Ancelotti is one of Europe's most-renowned coaches for a reason, but it's also clear that his stock has fallen somewhat after Chelsea's capitulation at the hands of Inter in the Champions League.

For all Ancelotti's gleaming silverware, it has in fact been a feature of his career that, while his starting line-ups are almost invariably fit for purpose, his in-game changes can leave plenty to be desired.

Juventus 2-3 Manchester United
21 April 1999
Champions League semi-final

As a fresh-faced 40-year-old in 1999, great things were expected of Ancelotti in his first year at Juventus. However, a massively disappointing two seasons followed, characterised by near-misses.

The most emblematic of these was that fateful semi-final second leg in Turin. Needing only a goalless draw to proceed, Juve in fact went 2-0 up within mere minutes, and it looked like they were en route to the final. But United pulled one back and Juve fell apart.

Indeed, their reach exceeded their grasp as they conceded a goal apiece from Roy Keane and Dwight Yorke to go behind on aggregate as United's midfield took charge of the game. What's more, aerial defending - long since a bugbear of Ancelotti's - was absent.

A procession of semi-fit enforcers and makeweight strikers were brought on in the second period but despite all the pressure, a Jaap Stam-inspired United kept Juventus largely shackled. It was not a massive surprise when the Red Devils scored a third and ended the tie.

Juventus 2-2 Roma
6 May 2001
Serie A

Yet again Juve, in pursuit of silverware, shot themselves in the foot as they missed out on Serie A after a decisive draw with eventual Scudetto winners Roma. 2-0 up, in complete control, Juventus passed up a host of chances and it seemed that their trophy haul was about to begin.

Yet a Nakata wonder-goal gave Roma some impetus, and with Fabio Capello seeing that his players were being afforded lots of time 30 yards out, he instructed his troops to make the most of it. Nakata tried his luck again with just minutes remaining; Edwin van der Sar feebly parried it, and amidst a forest of legs Vincenzo Montella poked it in. A combination of wastefulness and a touch of arrogance did for Juve here - and did for Carletto's job, too.

Deportivo 4-0 AC Milan
7 April 2004
Champions League

Again complacency and aerial woes came to the fore as Deportivo La Coruna ousted AC Milan in what should have been an open-and-shut quarter-final second leg in Galicia. With Milan leading 4-1 on aggregate, an early goal from Walter Pandiani should have been the signal to slow the game down, retain possession, and rethink matters.

Instead Milan embarked on a dreadful evening of defensive and goalkeeping errors, and they were lucky to leave with just four goals against. Any attempt at solidifying matters ended in making things worse: bringing on attacking players resulted in a fourth Depor goal.

AC Milan 3-3 Liverpool*
25 May 2005
Champions League

A uniting feature so far is that Ancelotti's sides have been snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. In Istanbul, in that game, we saw this phenomenon taken to its absolute apex.

There's no doubting that this was a freak outcome, but was it perhaps preventable? After conceding that first goal, again the emphasis should have been on retaining possession - perhaps even sacrificing the likes of Seedorf. But yet again Liverpool were afforded too much space in midfield during their spell of ascension, and we all know what happened next.

Chelsea 0-1 Inter
16 March 2010
Champions League

Thus last night's defeat is something of a departure. In this instance, Ancelotti's side threw nothing away, because they never had anything in hand in the first place.

His side were out-thought from the outset, and Ancelotti's changes only made matters worse. The introduction of Joe Cole was pointless at a time when only Didier Drogba of all people was making telling crosses (remember his pass for Anelka in the first half?) Kalou was full of energy but not direction; the continued fascination with the out-to-lunch Michael Ballack should have been rectified at half time.

It just goes to show that even the greatest coach can have a weak spot.

Related