Carlo Ancelotti’s next managerial assignment soon begins at Bayern Munich, and he still hasn’t mastered German.
Given how clubs casually dispose of managers, Ancelotti could be forgiven for focusing his studies on the Bavarian team’s players rather than the native tongue.
After eight years coaching AC Milan, Ancelotti has only managed two seasons at each of his last three jobs: Chelsea,Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid. After so much turbulence, Ancelotti knows stability is rarely forthcoming.
“It’s unbelievable or impossible to stay 26 years as (Alex) Ferguson stayed (at Manchester United) but I would like to stay more time,” Ancelotti said in an interview with The Associated Press. “If it is not possible I have to find other solutions … and if the club is not happy they have the possibility and the right to change.”
After more than two decades in the dugout leading some of Europe’s biggest clubs, the Italian remains sanguine, still keeping his cool with owners rather than blowing his top when his missions are prematurely halted.
“This is my character,” Ancelotti said. “I’m not sad when I am sacked … it is part of my job. It doesn’t change my character because I grew up with this personality.”
In a profession notorious for feuding and outbursts, the 56-year-old Ancelotti still stands apart. Sometimes it appears to count against him, like at Chelsea while working for a notoriously restless owner in Roman Abramovich.
Ancelotti said it would have been “pointless” to confront Abramovich, who is silent in public but instills fear into managers behind the scenes with ultimatums and damning critiques.
“He thought that I was too kind in front of the players,” Ancelotti discloses in his new book, “Quiet Leadership ,” which was released Thursday and is more revealing than the coach can be in person.
In July, Antonio Conte will become Abramovich’s third Italian manager, but the outgoing Italy national team coach has a far more fiery and combative side.
“He is really focused on the little details,” Ancelotti said. “He is a hard worker.”
But would Conte stay as calm as Ancelotti when challenged by Abramovich?
“I think he has a different character,” Ancelotti responds diplomatically.
Ancelotti sees one of his biggest strengths as being able to calm players and situations. It is part of the “leadership arc” that forms the centerpiece of a book featuring contributions from former players, including Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Ancelotti worked with both brash stars after his Chelsea career ended in 2011.
Ancelotti joined PSG early in its Qatari-funded transformation and was astonished by the mediocre state of the facilities and organization at the French club. Ancelotti was disappointed to be discarded by PSG after two years, having anticipated establishing a long-term project like AC Milan, which the club’s former player managed from 2001-09.
Being dismissed by both Chelsea and PSG did not prove to be a barrier to being selected for another weighty post, having won titles with both. Ancelotti plunged himself into Real Madrid right after leaving Paris in 2013.
Ancelotti’s place in Madrid legend was assured by delivering the much-cherished “Decima” the club’s 10th European Cup at the end of his first season. But he was gone within a year, overwhelmed by injuries and politics at the Bernabeu and an unwillingness to comply with club president Florentino Perez’s demand that the players train harder.
“I didn’t know how long I was going to stay at Real Madrid when I signed,” Ancelotti recalled in a London hotel. “I think this is in the mentality and thought of every manager.”
One of Ancelotti’s first decisions in Madrid was to make Zinedine Zidane his assistant. It’s a decision the team is now benefiting from.
When Rafa Benitez, Ancelotti’s immediate successor last year, was rapidly fired, Zidane was handed the coaching job. Zidane has quickly revived the team, which has a shot at winning European title No. 11 in Saturday’s Champions League final against Atletico Madrid.
“It doesn’t surprise me because Zidane has a fantastic personality, a great charisma in front of the players,” Ancelotti said. “The players love to train with Zidane. He is a legend in Madrid and of course this will help him (with the politics).
“But in the end it’s the results and this year he had fantastic results and I hope this year he wins the Champions League.”
At Bayern, Ancelotti is inheriting a team that failed to win the Champions League during Pep Guardiola’s three seasons in charge while easing to a hat trick of Bundesliga titles. Supplying the club’s sixth European title would appear to be a priority.
“I didn’t speak yet with the club about this,” Ancelotti said.
He is coy on divulging his plans for Bayern before officially taking the helm, only assuring players: “I don’t want to change a lot.”
“There is no tactical evolution in football, it’s always the same,” he explained. “There is no winning system. You have success when players are comfortable in the system.”
What sets Bayern apart from Ancelotti’s previous jobs is finding powerful former players in charge, led by forward-turned-chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.
“For me to find a president that was a player that understands real world football will be a new challenge and a new relationship,” Ancelotti said.
One, Ancelotti hopes, which might offer a little more job security.