Following Ian Holyman of ESPN FC's report that Paris Saint-Germain’s Carlo Ancelotti is nearing the completion of a long-protracted move to Real Madrid, it is time to start considering what the Italian coach will bring to Los Blancos.
The two-time Champions League winner replaces Jose Mourinho in the Santiago Bernabeu hot seat, and given the Portuguese’s semi-feted departure, he will be a welcome arrival.
The inbound Chelsea boss had made more enemies than friends by the time his reign in Spain ended. He struggled to break the dressing room influence at the club, culminating in a highly political move to drop Iker Casillas to the bench after a hand injury. For that he incurred the wrath of the players and fans.
Ancelotti offers a different approach to the abrasive Portuguese and could be the key to Real winning the much-coveted ‘Decima’ that Mourinho failed to deliver.
One flaw that could be glaring is that the Italian’s style of football is hardly more aesthetic than Mourinho’s, but his man management approach is radically different and arguably more likely to find favour in Los Merengues’ powerful dressing room.
Ancelotti has succeeded this season in Paris in a situation that many coaches would find themselves unable to cope with. Faced with a stellar but top-heavy side put in front of him by sporting director Leonardo, replete with egos to match, the Italian turned a bunch of individuals into something that resembles a team.
Mourinho, in a similar situation but with a bigger say over the players brought in to strengthen the squad, failed miserably.
In fact, he won little compared to the club’s great ambitions that greeted his arrival. Despite breaking up Barcelona’s dominance temporarily he was not able to land a desired 10th Champions League title.
Ancelotti would leave the Parc des Princes mid-way through an ambitious project with a club that, despite possessing the financial means to challenge their Spanish rivals on the European front, do not have the same level of accumulated history.
The Italian is a long-term coach, somebody who can build a project and make it successful if given time and patience.
He didn’t receive that in Paris and ordinarily would not get it in Madrid either, where success is expected almost immediately. However, Real fans have had to get used to living in Barcelona’s shadow in recent years.
Mourinho is not a project manager and, if anything, has gained his reputation off the back of other people’s hard work and the strong squads he inherited.
His success with Porto cannot be debated, but at Chelsea, Inter Milan and Real Madrid he succeeded Claudio Ranieri, Roberto Mancini and Manuel Pellegrini who all left him very well-constructed, if incomplete, squads.
Ancelotti will prefer to put his own stamp of authority on the squad and will go about building the team in his own image.
Mourinho’s square pegs for round holes will no longer be necessary. The former AC Milan coach will likely reinstate Casillas as captain and in goal, while winning favour for doing away with the Portuguese’s former policy.
The short-termism in the appointment of Mourinho did not suit the club.
Real Madrid is a footballing institution, and although the former Inter Milan coach is an excellent tactician and superb motivator, his personal skills are flawed at times, he has a desire to be bigger than any one player, and his transfer policy is questionable.
Any relationship with Mourinho is bound to end in tears. He rarely stays for more than two to three seasons and the damage done during the final throes of his tenures is often devastating.
The show created by the Portuguese is spectacular and entertaining, but is also often empty and unfulfilling for the fan when the initial success dries up.
With Ancelotti there will not be the same level of melodrama, but there will be a degree of consistency and an air of respectability.
Under Mourinho, Real lost that respect at times.
This appointment of Ancelotti, if it does eventually go ahead, is a move that will find favour among the players and fans and is one that Real need after the turbulence of "the Special One’s" exit.
The Italian is looking for the same thing as the club: consistency and calm.
Ancelotti will bring both.