If his job was to calm things down, following a season which teetered on becoming a soap opera, then it has to be said that the Italian has made a good start to life in the Spanish capital.
He’s managed to take the decision to play Diego Lopez without greatly upsetting the local media or fans, while Angel di Maria is the only player to so far show any signs of discontent at not playing enough football.
Meanwhile, he’s slowly trying to incorporate the likes of Nacho Fernandez, Alvaro Morata and Jese Rodriguez, while still getting the glittering best out of Cristiano Ronaldo and helping Gareth Bale ease into his new life.
The question is, how does it compare to his predecessor’s start at the Bernabeu?
Results wise, as we stand on the cusp of the winter break, there are some startlingly similar parallels.
After 16 games, Ancelotti’s side are actually three points short of the total set by Mourinho in his first 16 games—had they won at Osasuna last weekend, there would have been just one point in it.
The Champions League records are identical at five wins and a draw, and in both seasons Madrid drew their first Copa del Rey outing 0-0 against lesser opposition before advancing at home—Olimpic Xativa this season, Real Murcia in 2010.
Ancelotti’s side are proving much more of an attacking threat, though. Incorporating their opening 16 league matches and their six matches in Europe, they have already scored 66 goals at an average of three goals every game.
In comparison, Mourinho’s side had scored 54 by the same point in his first season—an average of 2.4 goals every game—but were much tougher to break down.
They had only conceded 15—with five of them coming in a hammering at the hands of Barcelona—while Madrid have already conceded 24 goals this season, averaging out at just over one goal leaked in each match.
However it is that heavy defeat at Camp Nou which haunts Mourinho’s first season.
The Portuguese manager had arrived at the Bernabeu with the promise of toppling Pep Guardiola’s formidable Barca side.
Heading to Catalunya in November 2010, they were unbeaten and looked like they had finally bridged the gap which had been steadily growing between Spain’s two biggest clubs.
To lose 5-0 to Barcelona was a huge psychological blow to a group of players whom Mourinho was trying to help believe could do more than just hang on to the tails of their Catalan rivals.
Mourinho learnt a lot that day.
|Ancelotti vs. Mourinho|
|Mourinho 10/11||Ancelotti 13/14|
Madrid did go on and win the Copa del Rey that season, but they dropped more points in the league, losing to teams like Osasuna, Sporting Gijon and Real Zaragoza. Meanwhile, they were dumped out of the Champions League in the semifinal by Barcelona after wins against Lyon and Tottenham.
Fortunately for Ancelotti, he’s in a position where there isn’t such a big mental barrier.
Defeats at home to Atletico Madrid and away to Barca have hurt Los Blancos this season, but there isn’t a concern that they can’t live with these teams.
That’s partly thanks to Mourinho, who helped Madrid believe they were equal to La Blaugrana again, and partly because Barcelona’s remarkable cycle couldn’t continue forever at such a high level.
The draw in El Sadar was a setback, of course, but the five-point gap doesn’t appear fatal yet. Madrid still have to play Barca and Atleti again, while at least one of La Liga’s leaders will drop points when they meet each other at the Vicente Calderon next month.
Mourinho’s first season laid the foundations for the 2012 title, and also provided some silverware, but Ancelotti has to be looking to take advantage of more favourable circumstances.
Next year could be a good one for the peacemaker and his squad.
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