Ancelotti is safe at Real Madrid, but the club are eyeing up new manager


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Carlo Ancelotti’s job is safe for now despite Real Madrid suffering one the worst defeats in their European Cup history.

This Champions League thumping was also Real Madrid’s 11th defeat of the season and in the second period of Florentino Perez as president, that has only happened twice before and on both occasions coaches lost their job.

It was Jose Mourinho’s farewell campaign in 2013. And in the 2018-19 season there were three different managers.

And yet still Ancelotti feels, for the moment, safe. Perez said he would remain in charge, when he spoke after the Spanish Cup Final. And the president’s spokesperson Emilio Butragueño reiterated that on Wednesday night after the 4-0.

The reason why Perez is not yet sharpening his axe is the lack of a serious alternative. Xabi Alonso is the new favourite in the Madrid boardroom but he is only one season into his time at Bayer Leverkusen and he has said publicly that he wants to take the team into next season.

Real Madrid have two young coaches working in the club’s youth system but Perez is not convinced B-team coach Raul is the right choice and under-18s coach Alvaro Arbeloa needs to be promoted before he gets the big job.

Madrid did not move for Mauricio Pochettino before he went to Chelsea and neither did they try to entice Thomas Tuchel before he went to Bayern Munich. Julian Nagelsmann is available but it would be a big gamble after he failed at Bayern.

There are two managers from Madrid’s recent past that might be options. But Jose Mourinho is wanted by Paris Saint Germain and would split opinion if he arrived. And Zinedine Zidane prefers the idea of taking charge of the French national team over a third return to the club he has already left twice as a coach.

If Perez lets Ancelotti see out his contract it gives him one more year to persuade Alonso, and he could also give Arbeloa the number two position priming him as another candidate for the top job. Ancelotti’s son Davide is expected to depart and become a number one elsewhere this summer, leaving a vacancy.

It’s also true that Wednesday’s defeat is not being laid at Ancelotti’s door. It’s not the Italian’s fault that Real Madrid don’t have a replacement for Karim Benzema or that top earner Eden Hazard is no longer a viable option – he has started just two league games all season. Ancelotti might have played a fourth midfielder, and he might have started with Antonio Rudiger who bossed Erling Haaland in the first leg. But neither decision is being seen as the reason why Madrid lost the game.

‘City was a hurricane that would have taken everything with it, even with 10 Rudigers on the pitch,’ said one match report in Madrid on Thursday morning.

For the moment the eye of the storm is focused on recruitment – the fact that City’s bench was far superior to Madrid’s last night.

The current calm could be disturbed in the coming weeks however. Madrid papers AS and Marca have launched huge online fans polls and Perez will watch with interest to see where the club’s members apportion blame.

There is also the matter of Ancelotti’s preference for next season. It’s an open secret that the 63-year-old fancies the Brazil job. If he sees out his contract at the Bernabeu where will he go next year? If he leaves now he can take over the most successful national team in history, and take them into a World Cup.

It’s easy to see why him being relieved of his duties might not be the worst news for him.

The Italian coach was a player the last time Madrid took such a beating in a European Cup semi-final. It was 1989 and Ancelotti was part of the Milan team that beat Real Madrid 5-0.

Asked about his future on Wednesday night he skillfully skewed the enquiry back in the direction of Perez: ‘Let nobody doubt it. The president was very clear 15 days ago.’ He was clear – he said Ancelotti stays. If no obvious and immediate candidate stands out – it will stay that way.

Carlo Ancelotti, once again World Champion - Carlo Ancelotti


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