What can we expect from Carlo Ancelotti’s Real Madrid?

By: Mohammed Sahel

Carlo Ancelotti, new beginnings and what Madridistas should expect from the new man in the hot seat.

Carlo Ancelotti’s reappointment came just days after Zinédine Zidane’s departure. Real Madrid were on the hunt for someone with a very specific repertoire. No normal circumstances would see serial winners like Massimiliano Allegri and Antonio Conte turned down. 

Well, Ancelotti, in his own right, is a serial winner. And unlike those mentioned — with him it’s a case of ‘been there done that’. So what can Real Madrid fans expect from the Italian boss? A wide range answer comes to mind but I’ll try my best to brief it down for you. 

Better Football: 

It was one of the more straightforward reasons behind Ancelotti’s appointment. The rationale is clear here — Florentino Pérez and Co. want the team to play expansive, free flowing football again. Not only is it stylistically feasible but a manager like Ancelotti may help answer some of Madrid’s tactical worries. 

Ancelotti is a flexible manager. A pragmatist of sorts, someone that reflects on what he has and aims to work with the resources that he’s got. It isn’t to say that Zidane was an inflexible tactician by any means. After all, it was the circumstances that forced the Frenchman into sometimes deploying a rigid structure, and to keep the bigger picture in mind wherever he went. 

With Ancelotti, you can almost guarantee explosive football. He’s hinted at the same already in his first press conference as manager. For this, he requires intense training methods, elite fitness levels and a squad with strategic diversity. Real Madrid have never been the team to play passively, and that certainly won’t be the case during Carlo Ancelotti’s reign. 

Working on the current Squad: 

Signings instantly come to mind when referring to Real Madrid. But as hinted already, the club wants to play it conservatively in the transfer market. Recruitment isn’t a top priority for Florentino anymore. Ancelotti understands that. 

With the club’s academy producing talents at an all time high rate, it’s evident how the likes of Miguel Gutiérrez, Antonio Blanco and maybe even Sergio Arribas will play a role this season. Maybe not a decisive one but as they frequently did towards the end of the Zidane era — to fill the gaps that emerge as a result of common unavailability. 

As for the players that are already available and guaranteed to stay, Ancelotti can trust them with pretty much anything. These aren’t just world class individuals but players that have worked with Carlo in the past, and some of the last that did it successfully. There will also be quite a few players on Ancelotti’s radar that he will be ready to get rid of but I’m sure he hasn’t made his mind up yet. 

Someone like Isco Alarcón, or Mariano Díaz, or even Luka Jović may be put on the transfer market. However, as stated before Carlo Ancelotti will intend to squeeze every bit of quality he can from the squad he’s got at his disposal. It is something he’s been able to do successfully everywhere he’s been in the past. 

Champions League pedigree

Again, pretty straightforward really. Both Conte and Allegri were incredibly high profile options but none with major European success. Ancelotti meanwhile is someone that can boast both domestic and continental success. If someone can get these players to win the Champions League again, it’s him. 

He’s won this competition a total of four times (3 as a manager & 1 as a player) and it’s clear how the management expects him to bring home the 14th Champions League title during his tenure. And that’s also why Ancelotti might not be a long term commitment for Real Madrid. He’s someone easy for Florentino to bring in and also someone easy to get out of the club. 

He brings with him 22 years of experience, of which he’s been unemployed for just 42 months. He’s spent an average time of 13 months during each of his tenures which seems relatively short even for a coach of such European pedigree in the 21st century. Ancelotti believes in 3 year cycles, and will help kick-start a project that previously seemed to be going nowhere at Real Madrid. 

Efficiency and Competence: 

It’s hard to be conclusive about Ancelotti’s qualities on the pitch. In part because of how diverse his coaching career is and how distinctive his persona has been at each of the teams he’s coached. But expect dominance and efficiency from his Real Madrid side. 

With Pintus back in the ranks, he aims to build a team that is physically capable and has fuel in the tank to be able to withstand long seasons like the one Madrid are about to endure. Shrinking intensity and concentrated energy levels were two very damaging observations from last season and Ancelotti will certainly wish to change that. 

His aim to see a more fluid, direct and attractive team goes hand in hand with Real Madrid’s own goal to produce more athletic and physical talent. Not just to move on from a star studded generation of more technically able players but also in order to adapt to the league’s more demanding standards. 

Improved Individuals: 

Ancelotti, much like Zidane, has always been a great man manager. During his time at Milan he had the pleasure of managing a squad of footballing greats but also one with huge egos. During his short stint at Napoli, his impact on the players mentally was a talking point and he was just a great ‘one to one’ manager. 

Outside of being a brilliant tactician and an adaptive strategist, this is what separates him from some of the other candidates that Real Madrid had at offer. Not all players had great experiences of playing under Conte’s intense training methods or Allegri’s defensive system. 

Ancelotti understands what each player requires to evolve on a physical and mental level. He knows how keeping the seniors in their comfort zone and forcing some of the younger group out of it may be the way to go. And individually too, he’s known to give direct insight onto what each player specifically needs. 

To this, he has a team of staff — which includes his son Davide — as people who are constantly on the lookout for imperfections and inconsistencies. Not just in the players but also in Ancelotti himself. This open minded nature of his makes him a very uncomplicated personality to work with. 

I reckon players like Marco Asensio, Eden Hazard and Marcelo will enjoy working with him. These are guys who haven’t hit top form in what seems like an eternity. Even others like Toni Kroos, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale have past experience of playing under Carlo Ancelotti and doing so successfully. 


As mentioned, It’s hard to be conclusive about Ancelotti’s qualities. But some aspects of his vision remain crystal clear — better football, the need for healthy relationships and a footballing cycle. Other aspects of his coaching repertoire like his training methods, dealing with the press and the way he deals with periods of downfall aren’t exactly striking characteristics.

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