It is a well known fact that Carlo Ancelotti was not Real Madrid’s first choice when he returned to the role in the summer of 2020. In fact, he was supposedly three or four rungs down the list, with Juventus’ Maximiliano Allegri turning the job down before him.
The reality is, Ancelotti’s career was going through a dip. After managing amongst the elites for two decades, Ancelotti left Bayern Munich and would appear next at a Napoli side which was not making the group stages of the Champions League every year. When he joined Real Madrid, Ancelotti was leaving Everton in midtable.
Expectations were not high when he arrived at the Santiago Bernabeu as a result. However Ancelotti went on to mastermind a league and Champions League double.
Speaking to Corriere dello Sport recently, Ancelotti explained that he had switched his methodology in response to the changes in football.
“Until recently, it was very difficult for me to vary systems and strategies during the match, today I have changed and I am more flexible. The era of fundamentalism is over, even the players have evolved and know where to be.”
MD carried his comments, and he followed it up by explaining that a manager must extract the best out of the tools he has.
“I’m not ashamed to stay back and look for the counter, even though I have quality players. But if you then have Vinicius [Junior] or [Kylian] Mbappé and they steal the ball from you and you don’t look for verticality… you are a criminal.”
Even referencing the current Roma manager Jose Mourinho as the best at doing so.
“Mourinho is the greatest among all of us, and he said that he won many games with defence and counterattack.”
The proof is very much in the dessert that Real Madrid fans have been enjoying for the last 18 months. Ancelotti’s side have not always sought out their opponent high up the pitch. At times they have pressed high and swarmed their opponents, but against the likes of Atletico Madrid or Barcelona, Los Blancos waited for their opponents and exploited the space behind them.