FourFourTwo’s 50 Best Football Managers in the World 2017: No.7, Carlo Ancelotti
Winning the Bundesliga title is nothing new for Bayern Munich – the Bavarian giants' 2016/17 triumph means they have now finished top no fewer than 27 times, including each of the past five consecutive seasons. However, as they celebrated this latest victory at the Allianz Arena last month, it was impossible not to be surprised by the sheer joy it brought their coach, Carlo Ancelotti.
The Italian has won a lengthy list of honors, but became the first man to win the title in four of European football top five leagues – and was determined to mark the occasion in style.
Bayern had invited Anastacia to their party, only to see Ancelotti grab the microphone - possibly to the relief of many - and deliver a rendition of I Belong To You by Eros Ramazzotti, before dancing with Anastacia on stage.
He would deliver a follow-up performance of Renato Zero's The Best Years Of Our Lives from a balcony overlooking Marienplatz as the celebrations continued into Munich city center. It is hard to imagine some of his contemporaries following suit, but then nor would his peers have been able to replicate the incredible career of the 58-year-old tactician.
Glory as player and boss
Ancelotti only moved to the sidelines after calling time on a wonderful playing career, winning a Serie A title and four Coppas Italia with Roma before joining the great Milan side of the late 1980s. There he added two more Scudetti and two European Cups, emphatic back-to-back victories in 1989 and 1990 that saw him first lift the trophy that would come to define him as a manager.
Ancelotti spent a single season with lowly Reggiana, helping them secure promotion to Serie A
As part of his coaching qualifications at Italy’s famous Coverciano center, he wrote a lengthy thesis entitled The Future of Football: More Dynamism, and would spend the rest of his days delivering exactly that wherever he went. Ancelotti spent a single season with lowly Reggiana, helping them secure promotion to Serie A before moving on to Parma, where he delivered Champions League football and proved he belonged at the highest level.
Juventus identified him as the successor to Marcello Lippi, but he endured two difficult seasons in Turin, struggling to help a side in transition. His two second-placed finishes in the league were deemed insufficient by the Bianconeri and Ancelotti was unceremoniously dumped, his sacking announced at half-time of a home game with Atalanta.
Just a few months later he was appointed by Milan, and the familiar surroundings of San Siro – plus the harsh lessons he had learned at Juve – saw a renewed determination from 'Carletto'.
He delivered a Champions League triumph in just his second campaign, relishing the fact his new side had beaten Juventus in the final. A year later, he clinched the Scudetto, successfully blending the creative talents of Andrea Pirlo, Rui Costa and Clarence Seedorf in a midfield that supplied endless chances for the likes of Pippo Inzaghi and Andriy Shevchenko.
Champions League master
Two more appearances in the final of Europe’s elite competition followed, as Milan infamously lost to Liverpool in Istanbul before gaining revenge over the same opponent in Athens back in 2007.
A great coach and an amazing person
From there he moved to Chelsea and then PSG, winning a league title with each (plus an FA Cup with the Blues) and further demonstrating his ability to work in challenging circumstances with the continent’s biggest sides.
That would, of course, stand him in good stead for his next role, as manager of Real Madrid where he was given just one mission: end a decade-long wait for the club’s 10th European crown. La Decima had become an obsession in the Spanish capital, and Ancelotti delivered in his first season at the helm, instantly becoming a hero to the club’s supporters and prompting Cristiano Ronaldo to call him “a great coach and an amazing person”.
A year later he was sacked by Florentino Perez, but that in no way diminished public opinion of the fantastic job he'd done. Ancelotti acted with his usual class and style.
Whether in England, France, Spain, Italy or Germany, his teams have always been a joy to watch; players fluidly moving around the pitch, keeping the ball on the ground with neat, incisive passing and playing with an attacking style that combines skill, flair and efficiency.
He has never complained even when important players were sold against his wishes, instead taking everything in his stride and saying enough with a raised eyebrow that no words are necessary.
He has shown a unique ability to engage with the most gifted stars, a skill that led Paolo Maldini to suggest that “there is not a team in existence that Carlo cannot coach”. Who are we to argue?
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