Carlo Ancelotti's descent from Double-winning manager to unemployment is complete. The Italian had sat in the media suite at Everton within an hour of this last loss, a game surrendered to 10 men and a staggering goal, and pondered what was next. "Officially, I am now on holiday," he had said. "I'm just not sure how long my holiday will be."
The confirmation was delivered within minutes, the Chelsea chief executive, Ron Gourlay, meeting the manager at the foot of the stairs to relieve him of his duties with 12 months of a three-year contract to run. The fight had rather been knocked out of the Italian over recent weeks, as it had been from his team once defeat at Old Trafford had killed off their chances of retaining their title. He accepted the decision, instead of protesting it.
Ancelotti had been due to return to Italy on Monday on holiday, returning, presumably, if the anticipated discussions with Gourlay had required him to be present. He will fly out anyway, with a summer to contemplate what is next. His instinct was always to remain in English football, though Roma could yet tempt him to return to Serie A. A manager of his quality will not stay out of work for long. He will have a chance to prove Chelsea wrong.
This was still a limp way to go out. Everton have not lost a league game to Chelsea since Avram Grant was in charge of the Londoners and they deserved to finish their season with a flourish, having created the better opportunities here before and after Seamus Coleman's red card. Yet Jermaine Beckford, primarily, had fluffed his lines. Then, 16 minutes from time, Chelsea's short-corner routine was lax and Beckford stole the ball from Frank Lampard on the edge of Everton's penalty area. What ensued was as breathtaking as it was ridiculous, as the striker ploughed upfield, away from flailing Chelsea players. He emerged with the ball after a couple of ricochets when the visiting pack briefly caught him in the centre circle, then wriggled free to bear down on goal. His shot flicked from Petr Cech's fingertips and might have bounced wide but, as Goodison Park held its breath, the spin turned the ball into the net.
"Roy of the Rovers lives on," said David Moyes. "It's the sort of thing you'd read in a magazine: you're down to 10 men and he gets it in his own box, gets past three players, benefits from a few ricochets, the keeper gets a hand on it and it spins in off a post." Beckford can be infuriating, a player as capable of the baffling as the dazzling, but this 10th and best goal of the season was a reminder of his talent.
Chelsea had no answer, even in the frantic latter stages when they huffed and puffed but were thwarted by vigorous Everton defending. John Terry skimmed a shot against the woodwork from 20 yards but that was as close as they came even after Coleman's dismissal, for two cautions in five minutes. Ancelotti's admission that "motivation" had been a problem since Old Trafford was revealing, though this season had actually slipped away in midwinter, when 10 points were taken from 11 matches.
"They can judge my job over two years and take a decision," the Italian said, before he knew he was to be cut adrift. No such logic was applied in reality, the travelling fans' chorus of "We want you to stay", which had rung out over the course of the afternoon, being ignored by the powers that be. Chelsea are managerless once again.