How cigar-loving, unflappable Carlo Ancelotti became the elite’s go-to coach for title glory

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·3-min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Real Madrid’s head coach Carlo Ancelotti celebrates after Real Madrid won the Spanish La Liga title by defeating Espanyol  (Vini Jr. )
Real Madrid’s head coach Carlo Ancelotti celebrates after Real Madrid won the Spanish La Liga title by defeating Espanyol (Vini Jr. )

With his shades on and smoking a huge cigar, Carlo Ancelotti revelled in his latest triumph, as Real Madrid were crowned LaLiga champions over the weekend.

A picture of him during the Spanish giants’ open-top bus parade sent social media into meltdown; it seemed to capture the very essence of Ancelotti.

The streets below him are bedlam. Around him, players Vinicius Junior, Eder Militao, David Alaba and Rodrygo excitedly squeeze in for the iconic shot — a bit like putting a comedy hat on a grandparent at Christmas. Amid it all, Ancelotti calmly puffs away.

Perhaps the Italian’s greatest strength is his apparent indifference. He never gets too high, never gets too low. Even in the most testing of situations, he appears unmoved.

Much like in Madrid’s last two matches in the Champions League, when 3-0 down against Chelsea at home in the quarter-final and then trailing Manchester City by two goals within 11 minutes of the start of their semi-final.

How much credit he can take for Luka Modric’s moment of magic that turned the game against Chelsea or Karim Benzema’s rescue act at the Etihad last week in the 4-3 first-leg defeat is open to debate, but Ancelotti’s record suggests he is the common thread.

He is a trophy-winning machine. The LaLiga title is his fifth league crown in five different countries.

On Wednesday night, he aims to move a step closer to a fourth Champions League success, with Madrid somehow still in the tie after suffering a battering at the hands of City.

While Pep Guardiola lived every moment on the touchline, Ancelotti simply took it all in.

Afterwards, while Guardiola’s post-match assessment felt more like an inquest, despite victory, Ancelotti shrugged his shoulders and looked forward to a second chance.

Considering his success at AC Milan, Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich and Real, it is remarkable that it is still difficult to get a handle on what Ancelotti stands for, as opposed to a Guardiola or Jurgen Klopp.

He is often blessed with the best talent, and it is his ability to adapt to the players at his disposal that is a standout quality.

He inherited Jose Mourinho’s Madrid squad in 2013 and won the Champions League; he took over from Guardiola at Bayern and won the title.

Yet, other than the trophies, it is difficult to determine the lasting impression he leaves. That is not a criticism. He is the ultimate hired gun that elite clubs know will deliver with minimum fuss. There will be no major fall-outs with the big egos he has to manage; no major demands to the chairman or president above him. He is still spoken of warmly at Chelsea — where he won the Double — for those very reasons.

He helps us grow, thanks to his demeanour. He is one of the greatest managers in this sport.

Asked to pin-point Ancelotti’s qualities, Madrid’s evergreen midfielder Modric said on Tuesday: “Just perhaps the way he is. He came back and he helped us a lot. He helps us grow, and that is thanks to his demeanour. He is one of the greatest managers in this sport. Having him back made us all happy.

“Generally speaking, his demeanour [is his strength], just the way he is, the way he leads our team and the group.”

It does not sound like the most tangible of qualities to put down on a CV, but whatever Ancelotti’s ‘thing’ is, it keeps on delivering.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting