A trophyless season at the Santiago Bernabéu tends to lead to a jobless manager and, with Carlo Ancelotti handed a two-match ban, forced to sit in the stands against Espanyol and Getafe, in all probability he has occupied his place pitchside for the last time.
This article titled “” was written by Sid Lowe in Madrid, for The Guardian on Thursday 14th May 2015 13.31 UTC
Carlo Ancelotti left his technical area and headed down the tunnel, never to return. Real Madrid had just been knocked out of the Champions League , Juventus’s players streaming across the pitch to celebrate with their fans high in the north stand, and unless there is a miracle Madrid will not win the league title either . A trophyless season at the Santiago Bernabéu tends to lead to a jobless manager and, with Ancelotti handed a two-match ban, forced to sit in the stands against Espanyol and Getafe, in all probability he has occupied his place pitchside for the last time.
The Italian was under no illusions. He has long known that support for him at boardroom level was limited and that defeat could mean dismissal. His authority has been undermined by Florentino Pérez, a president who does not believe in him, not least because he does not truly believe in any coach. Ancelotti knows that and at the end of the game, he appeared resigned to his fate. “I would like to stay but I know very well how things are in football,” he said. Related: Real Madrid’s Carlo Ancelotti: I don’t know if I’ll be here next season
At Madrid, especially. “I don’t have to talk,” Ancelotti continued. “If the club is happy, I can continue; if not, they will have to take a decision. The club has the right to change coach if it is not happy.”
By the time that Ancelotti appeared in the press room at the Bernabéu, Madrid’s institutional director, Emilio Butragueño, had been cornered by Canal Plus’s reporter in the directors’ box. Twice he was asked if Ancelotti would remain as manager and twice he evaded the question.
“Will Ancelotti continue?” he was asked. “Today, what we have to do is to be united, we win and lose together. The sadness is everyone’s. Now we have to end the league in the best possible way,” he said. “Does this defeat affect the manager’s future?” he was asked. “Today we have been knocked out, that’s what matters. We’re all sad. Everything else is secondary,” he replied.
Butragueño may not have known; these are presidential decisions and his role is largely decorative. More likely, he knew all too well. Everyone did. Defeat affects Ancelotti’s future in that it hastened the end and confirmed the lack of trust in the coach. His departure would allow for blame to be apportioned and renewal to be presented. Often, the most important role that a coach performs at Real Madrid is to fall on his sword.
“If it was up to me, Ancelotti would stay. He is a winner even if this year we did not win anything,” Marcelo said. It is not up to him. Managers do not survive defeat here. Not since 1983 has a Madrid manager gone into a summer having won nothing and continued the next season – and that was the club legend Alfredo Di Stéfano, whose team had been runners-up in every competition. Fourteen managers have departed empty-handed since then, some of them after a matter of months. In José Antonio Camacho ‘s case, after just 22 days.
Losing a Champions League semi-final is no disgrace, still less the season after winning the competition, even if Marca did call it the “fiasco of the century”. But there is a deeper question. Assuming there is no dramatic turnaround, Madrid will have won just one league title in seven years. In 2003, Madrid released Vicente del Bosque after he had won the title. Pérez had inherited him. Of the eight managers he has employed since, over 10 years spread across two presidential mandates, only José Mourinho has won the league. More than a billion euros has been spent. Related: Gareth Bale defiant over fans’ criticism of Real Madrid’s European exit
Ancelotti won the European Cup , but that was last year and this is this year. And next year, well, that will be different too. If once the idea was to promote Zinedine Zidane, his position has weakened and the intention is for Ancelotti’s replacement to be sought among Spanish managers, preferably from among those with experience of European competition.
His job will be to manage an evolution, not lead a revolution. The shift in Cristiano Ronaldo’s style, his increasingly rapid move towards becoming a No9, will condition the way they play, altering an approach. So would a transfer ban from Fifa, should that finally occur. If they can sign, the key target is a midfielder. Gareth Bale’s firm intention, and that of the club, is for the Welshman to continue . His role may change but his club should not. David de Gea’s arrival, meanwhile, depends on the difficult resolution of Iker Casillas’s future.
Together, they must win. At Real Madrid, anything else is a failure that must be paid for, as Pérez said on Wednesday: “Nothing is sufficient here, that’s the law that Madrid’s history lays down”.
Butragueño had said before the game that “we win and lose together” but some lose more than others.
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