Carlos Ancelotti. SUR
The best manager in modern football

The best manager in modern football


Some say Real Madrid's Carlos Ancelotti has lost his magic, but has he really?


Friday, 27 January 2023, 13:28


Sometimes the Spanish football media just can't help themselves!

I couldn't believe my ears when an esteemed La Liga journalist and former colleague pronounced on radio that Carlos Ancelotti's days as the manager of Real Madrid may be numbered.

It's often a knee-jerk reaction to a spell without success. Yet it's only five months since the Italian added the European Super Cup to the Champions League and La Liga titles.

The comment was made in the week when Real had lost in the final of the Spanish Super Cup and during a live broadcast when they were trailing at half time to Villarreal. "Ancelotti had lost his magic," was the assertion.

Within the hour the wise Italian coach proved that he still has a few tricks up the sleeve of his beautifully tailored suit. He took a tough decision to cast aside the reputation of Toni Kroos and replace him with fringe player Dani Ceballos. He also substituted Rodrygo for Marco Asensio, which was essentially an admission he'd got it wrong in the first instance.

The Spanish journalist was left choking on his words; Ceballos set up a goal for Vinícius Júnior and then scored the crucial winner with an assist from fellow sub Asensio.

Ancelotti followed up his decisive management of the Real Madrid team by leaving elder statesmen Kroos and Luka Modrić - as well as Rodrygo - out of the starting line-up in Bilbao against Athletic. Asensio again weighed in with an assist. When Kroos and Rodrygo were introduced as subs, they contributed with a goal and the pass that led to the goal respectively. Ancelotti strikes again.

In my view he's the best manager in modern football. Okay, Pep Guardiola is heralded as one of the greatest coaches, Jurgen Klopp galvanised Liverpool FC, Mikel Arteta is leading an Arsenal revolution and Jose Mourinho is still just about box-office... But Ancelotti has it all.

Like Sir Alex Ferguson, he "manages". The art of management is delegation. He allows the coaches to coach, hangs on every word of his sports science and medical departments, and then makes informed decisions based on knowledge.

Hence the tough decisions made for the sell-out in Bilbao. Some called it brave - but, in truth, it was just considered.

The lazy view is that Ancelotti inherits a team, organises it, and sets it on its way - but that his methods have a limited time span. This was the conclusion of the Spanish hack. What he'd overlooked was the quiet transition of the Real Madrid team. Take 20-year-old Eduardo Camavinga, who has been given tough love by the manager. He rarely goes the full 90 minutes, as Ancelotti throws a paternal arm around his shoulder as he drags him off. Gradually, he's earning more minutes as he learns from the masters Modric and Kroos.

Fede Valverde, Viní Júnior and Éder Militão are players who've become established during Ancelotti's reign and are all the future of the club. It's a quiet revolution.

However, I do write this column before the midweek Copa del Rey clash with capital rivals Atletico Madrid and if they lose, the Ancelotti out campaign will start all over again.

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