Carlo Ancelotti and the Future: Milan, A Break, and Why Real Was Wrong
Carlo Ancelotti’s two-year reign at Real Madrid came to an end Monday when he was let go by the club.
Ancelotti achieved much while there, such as bringing them to the coveted Decima in July 2014, guiding them to the club world cup win and the Super Copa, and overseeing shrewd transfers of the likes of Gareth Bale and Toni Kroos, Keylor Navas, and James Rodríguez during the summer of 2014.
He didn’t win Real the league title last year or this one, and this year started off slowly with losses to Atletico Madrid – but then Real went on a record-breaking 22 match win streak, surpassing the previous Spanish record of 18 successive wins set by a Frank Rijkaard Barcelona in the 2005–2006 season.
In the end, as we know, it wasn’t enough. The expectations at Real Madrid are skyscraper-high, and because the club did not win silverware this year or last, they felt Ancelotti had to go.
His departure was not a surprise; he waited all last week to hear about it while others weighed in.
Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone told Spanish sports radio Al Primer Toque, "I respect him very much and hope he is retained. He won the Champions League last year. I am not Ancelotti's agent, but I get angry that everything [he has done] is not valued."
Cristiano Ronaldo took to Twitter to say of Ancelotti before the sacking: “Great coach and amazing person. Hope we work together next season.”
Ancelotti is known as a friendly, easygoing coach, especially in contrast to his predecessor at Real, Jose Mourinho, whose tenure is generally regarded as tumultuous. It’s a shame the club could not see past the loss of the league title, but that is the Real way. If you don’t produce anything but top marks, you are destroyed. Look at the way fans treat Gareth Bale, who is regularly heckled as he leaves training. There is an atmosphere at the Bernabeu of immediate punishment if you don’t perform.
Is it right to overlook Ancelotti’s coaching pedigree –Parma, Juventus, AC Milan, Chelsea, and PSG in addition to Real Madrid—as well as his whole-team approach and his accomplishments at Real even though they did not include league titles? Can we infer from this that if Real does not win a title, they do not consider themselves successful?
Probably not. But the message is sent anyway that Real Madrid will not tolerate anything but a total win, no matter what it takes to get there or who they must fire in order to find it.
Perhaps someday, post-Ronaldo, the club will find that maintaining that expectation will be more difficult.
What’s next for Ancelotti
Ancelotti said that he would take a year off from coaching and then “see where he was,” if sacked.
Now that he has been, the rumors started immediately as to where he might end up, sabbatical or no. But he is the type of coach who could take the time off and still land on his feet with a top club.
Milan appears to be a front runner club for Ancelotti. Milan would be an excellent move for the Italian. The Rossoneri won’t finish higher than eighth this season, missing out yet again on European competitions and shattering the already broken hearts of the Milan faithful, whom I wrote about here.
Milan vice president Adriano Galliani told Italian TV station Sport Mediaset that “there is a 50 percent change that he [Ancelotti] will accept.” Ancelotti’s wife told the press that her husband needed “to recharge the batteries” and that they will spend the summer in Canada. Some reports suggest he is scheduled to have back surgery this summer.
Milan did a nose-dive this year under coach Filippo Inzaghi, who is under contract until June 2016. The club is in desperate need of someone to bring together the fans and the club management to find a solution out of the middle of the table.
Per Goal.com, Ancelotti said of the Milan decision to Milan Channel, "I've always got on well with Galliani. We'll decide on June 3. Will I take a year off? We'll see."
Ancelotti left Milan in 2009 after eight years to join Chelsea. It was the longest he has coached anywhere. He told Sport Mediaset that Milan is the “only club I would coach again.” Milan presents a wonderful challenge and a terrific opportunity to induce nostalgia for the winning days, which the fans badly need.
Ancelotti could bring together the fractured club and fans. He would feel at home, and already understands the Milan culture.
His experience -- and oh, that Eyebrow—make me eager for the moment when we see him again and I hope for Milan’s fractured sake that it is at the San Siro next August.
As for Real Madrid, comparable quality may be hard to come by in their next coach. Real president Florentino Perez recently said, "Madrid never gives up, nor do madridistas. We will try again for the Undecima. We will work without rest to achieve it."