Grading Carlo Ancelotti's Early Success at Real Madrid
How much say he had in the deals, with president Florentino Perez notorious for taking charge of Real Madrid's business, is questionable. However, now that his squad is set, it seems a good time to look at how the Italian has settled in to life in the Spanish capital.
For starters, Marca's prediction back in May that Ancelotti would arrive as a peace maker has perhaps already been wide of the mark.
That reference was born from the fact that things spiraled into chaos towards the end of the Jose Mourinho reign, but, after a relatively relaxed and efficient preseason, Madrid's first game against Real Betis threw up the same old controversies.
Iker Casillas again started on the bench, with Diego Lopez, as under Mourinho, preferred by Ancelotti.
For the next two games, against Granada and Athletic Bilbao, Lopez has also started.
In sticking with Lopez, Ancelotti has demonstrated that he will pick the team, that he's in charge. He will not pick the team to appease the Madrid press.
And largely, despite the initial surprise and outcry, it's not provoked the criticism that befell Mourinho last season—time will tell if that remains the same.
On the pitch, Los Blancos are three wins from three, nine points from nine. Unbeaten.
They've yet to hit top gear, as the players still adjust to a slightly different style under their new manager, but they do say that to win not at your best is the sign of a really good team.
Two majorly impressive facets of Ancelotti's early days in the Bernabeu hot seat are Isco and Luka Modric.
|Real Madrid||2-1||Real Betis|
|Real Madrid||3-1||Athletic Bilbao|
In almost a free role, Isco has been given the licence to roam, to create, to link up play and to score. In three league matches he's already bagged three goals, including a late headed winner in the season's curtain-raiser against Real Betis.
Sat deeper, with a full season alongside his teammates under his belt, Luka Modric has been a revelation in the Madrid midfield.
Sunday's performance against Athletic Bilbao was arguably his best in a white shirt.
He showed everything. He kept the ball, produced a variety of passing, tracked, tackled and linked play moving forward. He was sensational.
On the other hand, Anclelotti has Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Portuguese forward, despite opening his account this past weekend, has not looked himself yet. The shoot-on-sight policy has still been in existence, but just something about his body language and his performances hasn't seemed right.
It will not doubt be at the top of Ancelotti's "what needs addressing" list.
Overnight results weren't expected in terms of style. Ancelotti was never going to implement his ideas this quickly, but the shift from counter-attacking to a more possession-based game is beginning to shine through.
How would you rate Ancelotti's start?
The Gareth Bale transfer, Mesut Ozil's departure and the goalkeeping situation have cast shadows over the 54-year-old's early days in the Spanish capital, but, other than the 'keeper selection, that has had little to do with Carletto.
With the window now shut and business wrapped up, Ancelotti and his team will no doubt be breathing sighs of relief on Tuesday as they look forward to continuing the early foundations they have laid for a successful season.
Ultimately he'll be judged on titles, La Liga and La Decima, but his start earns him a B.
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