Having sacked Brendan Rodgers, Liverpool could replace him with Jurgen Klopp or Carlo Ancelotti. FFT's Italian expert Greg Lea explains why they should choose the former AC Milan, Real Madrid, Chelsea and PSG manager...
When it became clear on Sunday afternoon that Liverpool were looking for a new manager, there were only two names on everybody’s lips.
Jurgen Klopp and Carlo Ancelotti, who had both been linked with the job even before Brendan Rodgers’ dismissal, are the two leading candidates.
With both managers out of work despite possessing exceptional CVs, the Reds may feel they are in a win-win situation. Having said that, there is a strong argument that the Italian’s superior experience and knowhow gives him the edge over the former Borussia Dortmund chief. Here are five reasons why Liverpool should hire Carlo Ancelotti as their new manager...
1) A safe, successful pair of hands
- AC Milan (2001-09): Champions League (2002-03, 2006-07), Super Cup (2003, 2007), Club World Cup (2007), Serie A (2003–04), Coppa Italia (2002–03), Supercoppa Italiana (2004)
- Chelsea (2009–2011): Premier League (2009–10), FA Cup (2009–10), Community Shield (2009)
- Paris Saint-Germain (2011–2013): Ligue 1 (2012–13)
- Real Madrid (2013–2015): Champions League (2013–14), Super Cup (2014), Club World Cup (2014), Copa del Rey (2013–14)
Put simply, Ancelotti practically guarantees success. His track record is outstanding, having won league titles in Italy, England and France and ending Real Madrid’s lengthy hunt for their 10th European Cup just 17 months ago. Regardless of any future achievements, he will go down in history as one of the best managers of his time.
Indeed, Ancelotti has proven he can steady any ship and guide it through the choppiest of waters. He led AC Milan to a first Serie A crown in five seasons in 2003/04, as well as winning the Rossoneri’s sixth and seventh Champions Leagues and introducing an entertaining, attacking brand of football.
He then enjoyed success at Stamford Bridge, finally helping Chelsea get over their post-Jose Mourinho blues by lifting the Premier League title in his first season in charge in 2009/10. Ancelotti was harshly sacked by a ruthless Roman Abramovich after finishing in second place a year later, with the travails of his replacement Andre Villas-Boas proving what a ridiculous decision it had been to get rid of the Italian.
Unperturbed, Ancelotti moved onto Paris Saint-Germain, where he won Ligue 1 with two games to spare, before joining Real Madrid and helping the club to claim La Decima after 12 years of waiting. Ancelotti’s accomplishments in multiple leagues show exactly what he would bring to Liverpool.
His experience at the top end of the game is almost unrivalled, while his commitment to a positive style of play would further endear him to the Anfield faithful. Ancelotti has shown time and time again that he is a safe pair of hands who can thrive in virtually any environment, something that bodes well for a club in desperate need of direction and leadership.
2) He can foster a team spirit
Ancelotti has worked with some huge egos and difficult personalities at his former clubs, from Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Cristiano Ronaldo on the pitch to Silvio Berlusconi and Florentino Perez off it.
He is a master conciliator who is able to unite an entire outfit around a common cause. This should be easier at Anfield than in some of his previous projects: Fenway Sports Group hardly compare to the preening overlords at Milan and Madrid, while Liverpool don't possess any players with inordinate levels of self-esteem. It's notable that Ancelotti seems to be well-liked by almost everyone he has worked with.
Indeed, toward the end of last season, with rumours that Real Madrid were to sack the affable Italian, no less a player than Ronaldo leapt to his defence. Calling Ancelotti a “great coach and amazing person” proved that the media-savvy Portuguese genuinely enjoyed working with the former midfielder.
Liverpool’s is a squad clearly short of confidence at the moment after an underwhelming finish to 2014/15 and a disappointing start to the current campaign. Ancelotti would not only be able to organise the troops, he would almost certainly manage to maintain a harmonious dressing room atmosphere.
3) Pulling power
Liverpool remain a historic club and one of the biggest names in the world game, but an increasing number of today’s footballers won't remember them at the peak of their powers in the 1970s and 1980s. It is therefore becoming increasingly difficult for the Reds to attract the highest calibre of players to Anfield, particularly when they are not competing in the Champions League.
The presence of Ancelotti in the dugout could certainly help to change that, though. The likes of Andrea Pirlo, Gareth Bale and Kaka all improved under the 56-year-old’s guidance, something that will have been noted by fellow players and agents alike.
Simple economics dictates that, with or without Ancelotti, Liverpool cannot compete with the likes of Manchester United, Manchester City, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich for proven world-class talent. Having such a well-respected figure at the helm would certainly increase their chances of attracting the best of the rest, however, with the opportunity to work with Ancelotti likely to be extremely appealing to prospective new signings.
4) European success
The title of Ancelotti’s 2009 autobiography Preferisco la Coppa is a play on words. Literally “I prefer the cup”, it also refers to a cured cold pork cut typical of his native Emilia-Romagna.
The one major criticism of Ancelotti in his managerial career to date is his lack of league titles: just three in two decades as a manager. Liverpool, though, are not only a club currently unequipped to finish top of the pile after a gruelling 38-game campaign but also one that has always prided itself on its performances in Europe, where there can be no doubting Ancelotti’s abilities. Only Bob Paisley, who won the European Cup with the Reds in 1977, 1978 and 1981, has as many Champions League medals as Ancelotti, who triumphed in 2003 and 2007 with Milan and 2014 with Madrid.
Those are the only two clubs to have won Ol’ Big Ears more times than Liverpool’s five; if the Merseysiders want to return to the glory days of yesteryear on the continent, hiring Ancelotti wouldn't be a bad start.
5. Big-club feel
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It's now over 25 years since Liverpool last won the English top flight, a considerable drought that does not look like ending any time soon. While their wonderful history cannot be taken away from them, it doesn't count for much when it comes to winning league championships in the present day.
Were Ancelotti to take over, though, Liverpool would immediately feel like a club that is building towards competing for the biggest trophies again; indeed, the Italian’s appointment would be both a reminder of the Reds’ famous name – there aren't many non-Champions League clubs who would even be linked with Ancelotti – and a statement of intent going forward.