The Red sea has claimed another victim

CHELSEA and their title dreams were wiped out by a Manchester Untied tidal wave of attacking football at Old Trafford and it’s fair to say Carlo Ancelotti’s hopes of staying in his job have been swept away with them.

Had Chelsea produced the kind of performance of power, precision and tactical nous that earned them victory here last year on the way to the Double then there was hope the Italian could stay in place at least for the short term; but on a day when Alex Ferguson promised he will stay for at least another year at Old Trafford the chances of Ancelotti following suit are negligible.

United fans and players celebrated wildly at the final whistle but the Chelsea manager cut a lonely figure as he contemplated just where it had all gone wrong and just where it would lead.

His team at least showed effort and energy in the second half when Frank Lampard’s goal briefly made United sweat; but the overall picture was of a side ripped part, devoured and decimated by a United team so vibrant and so superior that the result was never truly in doubt.

Perhaps the early goal for Hernandez destroyed Chelsea’s wavering confidence and perhaps memories of such a painful defeat here in the Champions League quarter-finals weighed heavily on them too; but for whatever reason the Blues, unbeaten in 10 matches going into the game, couldn’t produce a performance.

The consequences for football are that Chelsea have all but surrendered their title with United needing only another point to confirm their victory; and the consequences for Chelsea are more extreme.

This match no doubt summed up exactly what owner Roman Abramovich dreams of owning; a vibrant attacking team playing exciting, winning football in a crackling atmosphere in one of the best sports stadia in the world; but unfortunately for him no amount of money can buy what United have, certainly not when he persists in sacking manager after manager.

It’s no coincidence that Old Trafford has been a graveyard for Chelsea coaches over the years and although John Terry and his cohorts may want Ancelotti to rise again you suspect it will prove almost impossible after his team ended the season with nothing despite the investment ploughed in from above.

If that is the case then Ancelotti is in good company; United ended the Chelsea career of Avram Grant by beating him in the Champions League final eight months after also giving him a painful baptism in the Premier League, too.

Then there was Luiz-Felipe Scolari, never destined to last long at Stamford Bridge, who was sacked mid-season, his demise hastened by a 3-0 defeat in Manchester and effectively ended by a feud with star striker Didier Drogba after he accused the player of not trying hard enough at Old Trafford.

When Drogba was subsequently left to train with the youth team, Abramovich acted quickly and he was never likely to be on his manager’s side.

Chelsea’s performance in a hugely entertaining clash this time was nowhere near as miserable as January 2009 but it has left Ancelotti in much the same position as his predecessor.

Having bowed to his owner’s wishes and played £50m striker Fernando Torres when facing United in the Champions League — a decision which most onlookers agree cost him any chance of victory — he was braver this time and chose Drogba to play in the lone role, leaving Torres on the bench.

But that courage, although it produced a better performance, will do him no favours when Abramovich comes to consider his position at the end of the season because the painful truth is that United, rebuilt so expertly once again by Ferguson, were by far the better side and thoroughly deserved their victory.

Chelsea had no-one to match the pure skill and energy of Wayne Rooney, who once again played deep behind Hernandez, no-one to match the creativity of Ryan Giggs and certainly no-one to match the pace and hard work of Antonio Valencia and Ji-Sung Park, who ran riot.

It is no exaggeration to say United could have scored 10 and although Chelsea will claim Edwin van der Sar also made several crucial saves at important times they could not possibly claim to be unlucky.

This was a title-winning tour-de-force set up by a manager who is now unquestionably the greatest in English football history and completed by a team that despite terrible away form and a slow start have now swept away everything in front of them.

Chelsea, by contrast, have been left floundering with little to cling to, their title hopes beached — and their manager about to go under. The Red sea has claimed another victim.

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