Ancelotti makes low-key start as Real Madrid look to forget Portuguese provoker
About 45 minutes into his first official outing as Madrid manager, Carlo Ancelotti will have realised exactly how long three years in the Spanish capital can seem. That's thanks in no small part to how much time he's already had to spend dealing with the local media.
The first part of WednesdayÃ¢ÂÂs official presentation at the Santiago BernabÃÂ©u had been a relative doddle. Real Madrid had picked up their newly-appointed coach from the airport, then shown him around their plush, fancy-pants training facilities. Assorted squat, chubby men in their fifties had been introduced and greeted. Zinedine Zidane was also hanging about, looking like he didn't know what to do with himself - or his suit jacket.
Part two was also a fairly pleasant affair. Florentino PÃÂ©rez gave a charming welcome speech warning the new boss of the insane pressures on a Real Madrid coach, then explaining how the supporters will both be demanding but fully supportive their manager at the same time. Try telling that the previous bloke in charge...
The Madrid president also had a to give a bit of a downgrade to his new appointment. JosÃÂ© Mourinho was always introduced as the Ã¢ÂÂbest manager in the world.Ã¢ÂÂ Ancelotti was merely Ã¢ÂÂone of the best managers in the worldÃ¢ÂÂ. To be fair, it was also said the Italian would bring Ã¢ÂÂserenity and seriousnessÃ¢ÂÂ to the role; two boxes his predecessor rarely ticked.
Half-an-hour later, Ancelotti spoke to the press for the first time as Real Madrid coach. It was quite the ordeal, with all manner of questions being fielded on the Champions League, the pressure at Real Madrid, whether he was born to manage Real Madrid, new signings, Isco, Iker Casillas, Falcao, whether he was going to be mean to the press like Mourinho, what his football style would be and what on earth was he going to do with Zidane.
The answer to that last poser was that he would allow the Frenchman to be part of his coaching team and sit on the bench for matches, but that Paul Clement was going to be his official assistant, having worked with Ancelotti at Chelsea and PSG.
The rest of the responses were given in remarkably good Spanish considering the Italian was attempting to switch his brain from French, while also getting help from Emilio ButragueÃÂ±o in English. Ã¢ÂÂIÃ¢ÂÂve never been called this, IÃ¢ÂÂm a coach,Ã¢ÂÂ was Ancelotti's response when asked if he was a peacemaking figure set to lay healing hands on a supposedly fractured dressing room.
By the time TV station, Antena 3, asked their allotted question, the two-times Champions League-winning manager looked like he was either about to nod off, or give himself a black eye with a nearby water bottle as an excuse to get out of the room. Soon after that moment, the proceedings were quickly wrapped up.
Although the national and local media were out in force, AncelottiÃ¢ÂÂs arrival has been treated in a relatively low-key manner in Spain. Indeed, MarcaÃ¢ÂÂs front cover and lead story on Thursday involved the Confederations Cup, while the editorial in AS merely dedicated one paragraph to the Italian. Ã¢ÂÂHeÃ¢ÂÂs coming offering peace and footballÃ¢ÂÂ were the deep thoughts of Alfredo RelaÃÂ±o, the paperÃ¢ÂÂs editor.
This low-key response is partly due to the fact the ItalianÃ¢ÂÂs arrival at Madrid is hardly a surprise, and also that he's not the kind of managerial figure to get stomachs rumbling in excited anticipation in the way Mourinho did three years ago. This suits Florentino PÃÂ©rez down to the ground.
Normally, the Madrid president would be wanting his club to dominate the national and international media - this time around, he wanted no nonsense, no fuss and no controversy from the new manager, in order to help wipe out memories of a certain Portuguese provoker. In these regards, Carlo Ancelotti made a solid start on his first day on the job.