Carlo Ancelotti has already guided Real Madrid to LaLiga glory at a canter, it’s an understatement to say his appointment was a masterstroke… beating Man City and then winning the Champions League for a fourth time would put him in a league of his own
- Real Madrid have wiped the floor with their rivals in the Spanish top flight
- Carlo Ancelotti could enjoy his post-title cigar four games before end of season
- What most endears him to his players is that willingness not to make it about him
Real Madrid have a 15-point lead at the top of LaLiga and if they open that up by just one more, Carlo Ancelotti will have won the title by the biggest margin in the club’s history.
It is an understatement to say inviting him to return from Everton last summer was a masterstroke. They have feasted so voraciously on their rivals that he could enjoy his post-title cigar a full four games before the end of the season.
It was fitting that he was seen smoking it on the open top bus that toured the city on Saturday night surrounded by four players who illustrate perfectly the job he has done.
It was fitting that Carlo Ancelotti was seen smoking it on the open top bus that toured the city on Saturday night surrounded by four players who illustrate perfectly the job he has done
Defenders David Alaba and Eder Militao have seamlessly replaced the seemingly irreplaceable Raphael Varane and Sergio Ramos and Brazilian forwards Rodrygo and Vinicius have thrived under the 62-year-old Italian in a way they never did under Zinedine Zidane.
‘I’ve not changed his position, he’s just matured,’ said Ancelotti of Vinicius when asked about him scoring 14 goals in the league this season, when he only managed six in the previous two combined. ‘His finishing is far more measured now, he takes his time to take the right decision.’
Ancelotti is equally reluctant to take any credit for Karim Benzema’s extraordinary campaign. In the summer there was concern at Madrid because the club did not sign any forwards. Where will the goals come from, Ancelotti was asked.
‘Instead of 30, Benzema will have to score 50,’ he said with a straight face. Benzema has 42 goals with five or six matches still to play.
Ancelotti was asked about that comment on Tuesday but while other coaches might have milked the moment, he just brushed it aside.
What most endears him to his players is that willingness not to make it about him. A more inexperienced dressing room might want to be protected by a boisterous leader happy to make himself the story. But the likes of Luka Modric, who has won four Champions Leagues, do not need that.
Italian Ancelotti guided Real Madrid to the LaLiga title last Saturday, winning it at a canter
‘It’s hard to pick just one thing,’ Modric said when asked what Ancelotti brings. ‘More than anything it’s the way he has returned to the club in such a down to earth, natural way. We were happy when he came back because we enjoyed it the first time around and won things.’
They have won things this time too, but the even bigger prize of a Champions League is going to be more difficult.
‘We have a small disadvantage,’ is how Ancelotti described the 4-3 first leg defeat, calling the challenge ‘an incredible opportunity’.
If he does turn it around, and Madrid win the final, Ancelotti will become the first coach to win the European Cup four times, in the same season he was the first to win all of Europe’s big five leagues.
He might have to recite the old Brian Clough line: ‘I wouldn’t say I was the best manager in the business, but I was in the top one.’
He will not, of course, but his career will put him in a league of his own.
What most endears him to his players is that willingness not to make it about him
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