The Real Madrid manager remains criminally underrated, despite his astonishing successes.
After beating Ludogorets in midweek, Real Madrid have won 19 games in a row, and show no signs of stopping.
Having Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale in your side doesn’t hurt, but there’s more to this astonishing run than just star players. The man who knits them all together is Carlo Ancelotti, the best manager in the world.
His achievements are impressive in terms of trophies alone: three Champions League titles; league wins in England, Italy, France and Spain; too many minor domestic cups to mention.
All of this success has not come through compromising attacking flair. His sides have played consistently good football, perhaps none better than his current Real Madrid side. Nobody believed it was really possible to win the Champions League with a midfield three as attacking as Angel di Maria, Xabi Alonso and Luka Modric, but Ancelotti did it.
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This season, he’s moved to an even more extreme version, with Isco, Toni Kroos and James Rodriguez currently playing behind the front three.
Ancelotti’s defining characteristic is his coolness. His relaxed nature allows him to adapt to the needs of different clubs. This flexibility is his greatest asset. He has worked successfully under volatile and powerful bosses as varied as Roman Abramovich, Silvio Berlusconi and Florentino Perez.
The pressure of winning “La Decima” had crushed many great managers before Ancelotti, but he took it all in his stride.
The criticism that’s always thrown at Ancelotti is that he works at established teams, with enormous budgets. That’s true, but it’s dealing with big name players and big egos that is Ancelotti’s speciality.
Could anyone else have take the rag-tag bunch of mercenaries assembled from across the globe and fashioned them into a side good enough to take on Barcelona in a Champions League quarter final?
Ancelotti did it in just 14 months.
The Real Madrid dressing room, which had reached the point of implosion under José Mourinho, has been transformed into a relaxed and tranquil camp, to a degree that we have perhaps never seen before.
Ancelotti’s Real take on Almeria this weekend, looking for their 20th consecutive win. They’ll probably get it, and Ronaldo will get the credit, leaping and screaming and pointing to his own name.
But really, it’ll be the composed gentleman on the sideline, chewing gum with a raised eyebrow, who should be thanked.