Most managers set to begin a spell at their third different club in less than five years would be treated with suspicion, if not deemed as complete failures. Carlo Ancelotti, however, proves to be the exception rather than the rule, for the Italian has added two league titles and one FA Cup to his impressive CV over the last four seasons.
If the Italian’s departure from Chelsea was met with widespread disbelief considering he had delivered a domestic double in his debut season, Ancelotti’s choice to leave Paris Saint Germain for Real Madrid was as predictable as a Twitter row involving Joey Barton.
Odd as it might sound, Ancelotti’s decision to swap the Eiffel Tower for the Puerta del Sol is a rather straightforward one. In Madrid like in Paris, he’ll have enormous financial resources at his disposal – although, despite Florentino Perez’s best efforts, even he would struggle to match the Qatar Investment Authority’s wealth – and will be asked to deliver trophies, on the domestic front as much as on the continental one.
Furthermore, any manager would agree that Cristiano Ronaldo, Sergio Ramos and Mesut Ozil are likely to soften the blow of having to leave behind the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Thiago Silva and Ezequiel Lavezzi.
In Spain, just as he did in France, Ancelotti will have one team to fear, but those who expect the Italian to continue the verbal war against Barcelona that characterised Jose Mourinho’s tenure at the Bernabeu are going to be disappointed, for the former AC Milan manager’s approach is completely different from the Portuguese’s.
That is not to say that Ancelotti doesn’t relish confrontation – after all he spent 10 years working under Silvio Berlusconi and Roman Abramovich, who are hardly shrinking violets themselves – but he goes about it in a much quieter way than his predecessor, with whom he shared a rather heated rivalry when both men were in charged of Inter and AC Milan.
For the first time since departing AC Milan, however, Ancelotti will be in charge of a club that places European success ahead of domestic domination. At Chelsea the Italian twice fell at the knockout stage, as he was outsmarted by Jose Mourinho and Sir Alex Ferguson, while PSG’s owners saw the Champions League as another step towards establishing the club in Europe’s elite, rather than a primary objective.
Real Madrid, however, perhaps even more than AC Milan, live for and are defined by their success in Europe’s elite competition. The Madridistas’ obsession with “La Decima” – a tenth European Cup – is such that last season Jose Mourinho’s men relinquished their chances of defending their La Liga crown as early as January.
As a student at Coverciano, the Italian FA’s centre of excellence, Carlo Ancelotti penned a thesis entitled “The Future of Football: More Dynamic” which, in theory, should be a first step in pleasing Real Madrid’s extremely demanding fans who not only demand success, but they want it to be delivered in style.
Jose Mourinho’s perceived failure to get his team to play the brand of football required by Real Madrid’s tradition – a misplaced critic, considering that Madrid found the net an astonishing 224 times in the league alone, over the last two seasons – as well as his well documented problems with some of the players ultimately costed him the job.
At AC Milan and PSG, Ancelotti showed that he’s as comfortable at dealing with some of the older heads in the dressing room – his AC Milan team contained Paolo Maldini, Cafu and Alessandro Costacurta – as he’s at dealing with some of the game’s most incendiary characters – yes, Zlatan, we are talking about you.
An astute tactician – Ancelotti was the manager who converted Andrea Pirlo to his deep-lying role – the Italian has also shown to be a rather shrewd buyer in the transfer window – bar the £50m he invested on Fernando Torres – and in Madrid he’ll be reunited with arguably his best ever signing, Kaka.
The Brazilian flourished under Ancelotti at AC Milan, developing into the greatest player in the world but has struggled since joining Real Madrid in 2009 and if Isco – soon to be unveiled as a Real Madrid player – could develop in the same way Kaka did, then Ancelotti’s job in the Spanish capital could become even easier.
Ancelotti’s finest hour as a player came in 1989, when he opened the scoring in the return the leg of the European Cup semifinal as AC Milan romped to a 5-0 win. The opponent that night? The same team that has turned to the former Chelsea manager in the hope to rediscover European glory.
Can Carlo Ancelotti succeed where Mourinho failed and bring the Champions League back to Madrid? Will his appointment see a number of players in and out from the Bernabeu?We want your views so have your say below or get involved on our Facebook page or Twitter feed.