Sports

Real Madrid’s Carlo Ancelotti is a players’ coach, an approach that has him on brink of Champions League history


The quadruple remains to be alive as Paris prepares to host the Champions League closing, however solely in the case of Carlo Ancelotti’s pursuit of a fourth European Cup. The Real Madrid coach can eclipse Liverpool‘s Bob Paisley and his Madrid predecessor, Zinedine Zidane, by turning into the primary to win 4 Champions Leagues as a supervisor if the LaLiga champions beat Liverpool in Stade de France on Saturday.

Historical past awaits for Ancelotti, the 62-year-old Italian supervisor who additionally received two European Cups as a midfielder in Arrigo Sacchi’s nice AC Milan aspect in 1989 and 1990, however there isn’t a sense of non-public legacy being a driving drive for him this weekend.

“He couldn’t care less about the record books,” professor Chris Brady, who co-authored Quiet Management, Ancelotti’s ebook about administration and training, advised ESPN. “He knows about it, but he just shrugs his shoulders when you mention it to him. In Carlo’s mind, only one thing matters. When I ask him what his job is, he simply says, ‘to keep the president happy,’ and he has done that with Florentino Perez at Real, with Silvio Berlusconi at Milan and Roman Abramovich at Chelsea.

“It isn’t about Carlo, and it by no means has been.”

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The same applies this weekend in Paris. Here is a coach who has won as many European Cups as Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp combined, more than Jose Mourinho, Sir Alex Ferguson, Vicente del Bosque, Ottmar Hitzfeld and Johan Cruyff, But, despite standing on the verge of becoming the first to win it four times, the prematch build-up is centred not on Ancelotti but on Karim Benzema and Mohamed Salah, Luka Modric and Virgil van Dijk — the great players who will decide the outcome on the pitch.


There has always been something understated about Ancelotti despite his stellar record. Some coaches are all about their so-called “philosophy” or destiny — sometimes both — and every trophy won or lost is viewed through the lens of their own personal success or failure. In the meantime, Ancelotti wins a trophy, shrugs those shoulders and leaves it to the players and the president to take the plaudits, although he did celebrate Real’s LaLiga title this season by smoking a cigar on the team bus during the trophy parade — a photograph that went viral after Madrid’s dramatic Champions League semifinal fight back against Manchester City.

“No, I do not smoke cigars!” Ancelotti said afterward. “It was solely a photograph with my associates and sure, these gamers are my associates.”

Ancelotti’s relationship with his players is perhaps what defines his coaching approach. When he was dismissed by Chelsea in 2011, less than a year after guiding the team to a Premier League and FA Cup double, a key factor in Abramovich’s decision to fire him was because the Russian owner believed that Ancelotti was not tough enough with his squad and too collegiate with his senior players.

“He all the time sides together with his gamers,” Brady said. “That is why all of them love him. He nonetheless thinks of himself as a participant who’s now managing and he’ll aspect with them, even when it prices him his job.”

For many who have played for him, Ancelotti’s readiness to consult his players and discuss tactics and training methods is what sets him apart and enables him to deliver success at the highest level. “When chatting with me, Frank [Lampard], Didier [Drogba], he wished to choose our brains: ‘Is that this an excessive amount of ways for the gamers to do? Are we doing an excessive amount of of this? I need to get the best stability,'” former Chelsea captain John Terry advised The Coaches’ Voice. “I’ve by no means had a supervisor truly, in in all probability all of my profession, that requested the gamers and gave them a little bit of duty.

“He made you feel that the togetherness was incredible, and we went on to win some big things.”

As Real battled to remove Guardiola’s Metropolis within the Santiago Bernabeu throughout their unimaginable semifinal second leg earlier this month — Metropolis had been two targets forward on mixture earlier than Madrid scored twice in stoppage time to take the tie to additional time — Ancelotti as soon as once more turned to his senior gamers to discover a solution to win, chatting with Toni Kroos and Marcelo on the sidelines to canvass their opinion.

“The coach himself had a few doubts about who he would bring on and who not to bring on,” Kroos mentioned after the sport. “We [Madrid’s players] have all seen a few football games ourselves. That allows you to exchange ideas a bit. That describes him really well, and why things always work well with the team. It’s outstanding. In the end he decides, but of course he’s interested in our opinion.”

One supply near Ancelotti advised ESPN that the key of his success comes from him being a supervisor of males moderately than kids. All through his teaching profession, his large successes — Champions Leagues with Milan, home success with Chelsea, a number of trophies with Madrid — have been with groups stacked with skilled gamers, not rising kids. At Real, whom he rejoined for a second spell final June after stints answerable for Bayern Munich, Napoli and Everton, Ancelotti has as soon as once more managed to encourage a staff of ageing gamers into feats many considered being past them, with the 34-year-old Benzema having fun with the most effective season of his profession beneath Ancelotti.

“During his first spell at Real, Carlo used Benzema as the pivot between Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, so he always played with his back to goal in the No. 9 role,” Brady mentioned. “But Carlo always knew that Benzema was really important to the team, and now he is able to let him play with more freedom.

“Carlo is aware of find out how to get the most effective out of gamers. Bale had his finest two seasons at Real beneath Carlo between 2013 and 2015 and Ronaldo was excellent, too, although Carlo wished to play him as a No. 9. However Cristiano advised him he was higher coming off the wing, so he let him do this. ‘Why argue with a participant who can rating so many targets?’ was Carlo’s view of that one.”


Liverpool are the staff standing between Ancelotti and his “personal quadruple,” and they’re an opponent that has delivered pleasure and ache in related measure through the years. In 2007, Ancelotti received his second Champions League as a coach by guiding Milan to victory over Rafael Benitez’s Liverpool in Athens, however two years earlier, he was on the mistaken aspect of the so-called “Miracle of Istanbul” when Liverpool overturned a 3-0 half-time deficit to attract 3-3 and win on penalties.

Maybe typical of Ancelotti, it isn’t a defeat that has brought on him sleepless nights since.

“He just says ‘these things happen’ when you mention Istanbul,” Brady mentioned. “Carlo still says that the first half in Istanbul is the best performance of any team that he has coached and that the second half, aside from eight minutes, was just as good. They played so well, but he just couldn’t change things quickly enough during that eight-minute spell when Liverpool scored three goals.

“And when it went to penalties, he wished Andriy Shevchenko to take the primary penalty. Shevchenko mentioned he wished to take the fifth — which was saved — so Carlo agreed. Why? Identical cause as letting Ronaldo play off the wing: Why argue with probably the greatest gamers on this planet?”

After nearly 30 years as a coach, Ancelotti will not change his strategy to administration now, whatever the stakes concerned. Except for his personal potential milestone, Real are chasing a record-extending 14th Champions League, whereas Liverpool are bidding to win their seventh.

Ancelotti beat Klopp’s Liverpool twice with Napoli and have become the primary — and solely — Everton supervisor to win at Anfield this century when he guided the staff to a 2-0 win in opposition to their neighbours in February 2021, so he is aware of find out how to win in opposition to probably the greatest groups of the Premier League period. When Saturday comes, although, the previous will depend for nothing. Ancelotti will ship his gamers out and depart them to get on with the job, simply as he has all the time performed.





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