If you thought Cristiano Ronaldo was great this past season, he should be even better in 2013/14.
Jose Mourinho is known for forging a siege mentality in his squad. With Porto, Inter Milan and Chelsea, that strategy has largely been successful. However, it backfired in a big way at Real Madrid. The negative effect it had on Iker Casillas was most notable.
Mourinho also had some parting words for Ronaldo, via The Guardian:
I had only one problem with him, very simple, very basic, which was when a coach criticises a player from a tactical viewpoint trying to improve what in my view could have been improved. And at that moment he didn't take it very well because maybe he thinks he knows everything and the coach cannot help him to develop more.
Ronaldo is the kind of person who needs a reassuring arm around his shoulder. Despite being one of the best players in the world, he craves affirmation. Just think back to when he was "sad" earlier this past season. Mourinho wasn't the kind of stabilizing force for Ronaldo that Sir Alex Ferguson was. The Special One had a lot of success in the past with players who many think of as unmanageable, like Wesley Sneijder, Samuel Eto'o and Didier Drogba. For whatever reason, it didn't work with Ronaldo.
With Carlo Ancelotti now in the fold, the 28-year-old will have the kind of figure in the dressing room who will take him aside and tell him how great he is. Ancelotti has had plenty of experience with big stars at AC Milan, Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain.
The ultimate individual player, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, has spoken about Ancelotti in glowing terms prior to the manager's departure from PSG, via Goal's Stefan Coerts:
I have a fantastic relationship with Ancelotti and I don't want him to leave the club.
He is the only coach I have had who has such an excellent rapport with his players, even more so than Jose Mourinho.
He always explains his decisions to the players when he benches someone. When we won the title, he gathered us in a small room to thank us personally and he had a personal message for all of us.
He has contributed a lot to PSG's project and has already built a lot here. If he leaves, seven or eight more of the staff could go. He would leave a huge void if he left and we all want him to stay put.
For Ibrahimovic to speak so highly of anybody but himself is a major compliment. If Ancelotti can rein in Ibrahimovic, then he should have no trouble doing the same with Ronaldo. His man-management style is what Ronaldo and Madrid as a whole need most right now.
Too many times last season, dirty laundry at the Santiago Bernabeu was aired out in the public. You always expect some drama from Real Madrid, but it reached a critical mass in 2012/13. When it rubs off on the team's performance, then you know it's a problem.
There should be no such issues next year. The players will have a manager they know will back them no matter what and who has reached the summit of European football on multiple occasions.
Of course, it likely doesn't matter who the manager is, Ronaldo will remain one of the best players in the world. He's extremely driven and physically fit. The question is whether or not he can catch Lionel Messi. With a manager like Ancelotti, Ronaldo should have that extra lift that will see him leapfrog Messi and eventually fulfill his destiny of bringing the 10th European cup to the Bernabeu.
With all of the problems swirling around Madrid, Ronaldo still managed to score 46 goals across La Liga and the Champions League, while adding 12 assists. Many footballers would love to have stats like that. For Ronaldo, those were his second lowest combined totals since moving to Madrid.
Now that he's got Ancelotti, he should be able to play much more carefree. He won't be clashing with the manager, nor will he wonder how much Madrid value him, especially if a new contract is down the pipeline.
With the problems plaguing Barcelona at the moment, don't be surprised to see Madrid—led by Ronaldo—storming through La Liga with relative ease.
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