What Is the Minimum Achievement for Carlo Ancelotti at Real Madrid?

Samuel MarsdenFeatured ColumnistOctober 8, 2013

MADRID, SPAIN - OCTOBER 01:  Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti holds a joint press conference with Real player Sergio Ramos ahead of the Real Madrid v FC Kebenhavn Champions League Group B match at Valdebebas training ground on October 1, 2013 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
Denis Doyle/Getty Images

For the second time this season, Real Madrid had to rely on a stoppage-time goal from Cristiano Ronaldo to dig them out of a hole at the weekend.

This time it was Levante who were dealt the sucker punch.

Alvaro Morata had equalised in the 90th minute after it looked as if Nabil El-Zhar had won it for the hosts, before Ronaldo's deflected shot sealed a stressful three points in an all-action finish in Valencia.

In Week 6 it was Elche who were left green over that penalty incident.

Without those late goals Madrid would now have four points less, meaning they'd be nine points behind Atletico Madrid and Barcelona at the top.

It raises questions over how long it is going to take Carlo Ancelotti to mould this side into his image.

They were also held at El Madrigal against Villarreal, while Atleti beat them in the Madrid derby at the Bernabeu, yet still, 10 matches in, there are no clear signs that this side are any closer to finding their identity.

"Our game is far too slow right from the beginning," the Italian lamented after the derby defeat, via BBC. "We suffered the same problem in our last match [against Elche]"

So in a trigger-happy world of rapid managerial turnarounds, what is the minimum achievement Ancelotti must strive for?

Is a trophy, any trophy, a necessity? Could a good run in the Champions League and a top-two finish in La Liga be seen as a success?

The rise of Atletico under Diego Simeone represents a new challenge.

While failing to win La Liga may not prove fatal, falling too many points behind Barcelona, and even more so Atleti, may not be tolerated; Ancelotti needs to keep his Madrid side close to Spain's two pace setters.

Neither should winning La Decima be a prerequisite. It's been over a decade since they last lifted Europe's biggest prize, and since then it's arguably got harder to win.

Madrid winning the Champions League in 2002
Madrid winning the Champions League in 2002Gary M. Prior/Getty Images

Only one side can win the Champions League, and it's not even necessarily the best side on the Continent that wins it each year—luck plays its part.

Which leaves the Copa del Rey.

A victory in the King's Cup is always nice, and it represents an opportunity for the fans to celebrate, but you can't help but feel it's somewhat of a booby prize compared to the other two trophies on offer.

No, the minimum expectancy for Ancelotti and his expensively assembled squad this season is to see the development of identity which we hear is being sought after each worrying performance.

The 54-year-old needs to work out his best midfield, his best formation and the best way to accommodate Ronaldo and Gareth Bale.

A trophy would be nice, and competing on all three fronts is expected, but Ancelotti has enough pedigree that he deserves to stay in the hot seat if Madrid's shift from the Jose Mourinho era into a more stylish side becomes apparent as the season grows.