Wolves 1-0 Chelsea: Bosingwa OG deepens Bridge crisis
Published 21:45 05/01/11 By Martin Lipton
No room for excuses. No place for complaints. And increasingly, it seems, no hope of improvement.
Carlo Ancelotti had promised Chelsea would end their "bad moment" with a win at Molineux, that there was not any doubt that, as a "lucky" manager, they would prevail.
Instead, the nightmare continued, reaching perhaps its blackest, darkest moment - a horrible, self-inflicted defeat to a team that started the night bottom of the league.
Jose Bosingwa's early own goal means Chelsea have dropped a stunning 23 points from their last 11 games, going from five points clear of the pack to nine adrift of leaders Manchester United.
That is utterly unacceptable, no matter what the reasons are.
And at Molineux last night, even with Roman Abramovich still sunning himself on a distant Caribbean beach, the clouds of doubt and despair were dropping on Ancelotti.
The Italian seems impotent, powerless, his words having no effect, his tactical and personnel changes doing little if anything to change a team that is imploding in full and public view.
This is not about Ray Wilkins or the shallow squad Ancelotti has allowed the club hierarchy to lumber him with - a situation in which he is complicit, if not guilty.
Less than eight months after winning The Double, Chelsea are a broken team and there seems no way back.
Certainly, for sure, there can be no way back into the title race, with United disappearing into the distance, and even a top four finish, nailed-on at the start of the season, is now becoming no more than an aspiration.
And when even the leaders of Ancelotti's dressing room are pale imitations of their normal selves, what follows is almost inevitable - and now worryingly predictable.
John Terry was nowhere near his commanding best, as if the effort of holding together a frayed and ragged back line has taken its toll, while Frank Lampard is still well short and Michael Essien has lost all his drive and purpose.
Didier Drogba, too, only really stirred himself for a confrontation with Stephen Hunt after the final whistle, further evidence of a ship rocking out of control.
But the crucial error, the one that gave Wolves their first top flight win over Chelsea since 1979 and moved them out of the bottom three, came from one of the other old dependables.
Seconds earlier, Petr Cech had thrown himself to his left to turn aside Ronald Zubar's swerving screamer but when Hunt delivered the corner to the near post, the keeper had to take command even if Lampard and Ashley Cole did not.
Instead, Cech was rooted to the spot as Bosingwa, under pressure from Steven Fletcher, diverted over his own line.
Bad enough, but what was worse was the response.
Wayne Hennessey was only extended once, from Salomon Kalou's prod goalwards on the half-hour when he changed direction superbly to kick clear, before racing off his line thwart substitute Nicolas Anelka in stoppage time.
That aside, Chelsea did nothing with an abundance of possession, their approach increasingly becoming sheer desperation, Wolves defending on the margins but never really exposed.
Kalou, played in by Lampard's astute backheel, missed the target, as did Florent Malouda - who again flitted in and out of the game - from a similar position.
And while Drogba, for once, escaped the excellent Christophe Berra to thud against the outside of the post, Hunt's response, from 20 yards, flicked the top of the bar with Cech again a beaten man.
So much for Ancelotti being lucky, other than being lucky to survive as long as he has.
But at Chelsea, the price of failure is severe.
Claudio Ranieri, Avram Grant and Luis Felipe Scolari - sacked when his side were fourth after dropping 17 points out of his last 33 - can tell the Italian the truth of that.
Now, it seems, it is a question of when, not if.
Unless Abramovich really has changed.
Wolves (4-4-2): Hennessey 7; Zubar 7, Stearman 7, Berra 8, Elokobi 6; Jarvis 6, Foley 6, Edwards 7, Hunt 6; Fletcher 6 (Ebanks-Blake, 70, 6 (Milijas, 83, 5)), Doyle 7 (Ward, 70, 5)
Chelsea (4-3-3): Cech 6; Bosingwa 7, Ivanovic 6, Terry 7, Cole 5; Ramires 6 (Sturridge, 72, 5), Essien 6, Lampard 5; Kalou 6 (Anelka, 66, 5), Drogba 7, Malouda 5 (Kakuta, 79, 5)
Referee: Mark Halsey (Lancashire)
HERO: Berra - stood there and refused to be beaten or by-passed
VILLAIN: Cech - top-class keepers simply have to dominate their own six yard box