What has happened
Last week, it was announced that Carlo Ancelotti had surprisingly agreed terms to leave Everton and return to Real Madrid as their new first-team coach on a three-year deal. The 61-year-old had arrived at the blue half of Merseyside in December 2019 to replace Marco Silva on a four-and-a-half-year deal.
Los Blancos had been looking for a manager ever since the departure of Zinedine Zidane. They were reportedly in talks with Massimiliano Allegri, but a lack of clarity on their part ensured the 53-year-old returned to Juventus instead. Mauricio Pochettino and Antonio Conte were also being sounded out as contenders, but Los Merengues ended up bringing back the tried-and-tested Don Carlo instead.
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A statement on Everton’s website read: “Everton can confirm that Carlo Ancelotti has left his position as manager to take up the role of Head Coach at Real Madrid.
Ancelotti, who joined Everton on a four-and-a-half-year contract in December 2019, said: “I would like to thank the Board of Directors, the players, and the Evertonians for the tremendous support they have all given me during my time at the Club.
“I have complete respect for everyone associated with Everton and hope they can achieve the exciting opportunities they have in front of them.
“While I have enjoyed being at Everton I have been presented with an unexpected opportunity which I believe is the right move for me and my family at this time.”
Everton would like to place on record its thanks to Carlo for his service to the Club over the past 18 months.
The Club will begin the process of appointing a new manager immediately and will provide updates in due course.”
Real announced the signing with the following statement on June 1: “Real Madrid C. F. announces that Carlo Ancelotti will be the club’s first-team coach for the next three seasons.”
Everton under Ancelotti
When he arrived in December 2019, Ancelotti found Everton massively underperforming and languishing in 15th place in the Premier League. He then went about stabilising the team, first with their on-pitch performances, then guiding them through a frantic COVID shutdown that went on from March – June 2020, ultimately ending the season with a 12th-place finish.
Next season – the last one – Everton started their campaign as perfectly as they could have hoped for, winning first seven of their matches – four in the league – and reaching the top of the Premier League table, which earned Ancelotti the Premier League Manager of the Month award for September.
Soon, though, Everton’s performances started swinging hard between both extremities. Despite showing a lot of promise, the Toffees’ dismal home form ensured that they didn’t capitalise on their exciting brand of football and ended the season 10th in the league. While Everton had the fourth-best away form in the league, their home record was ranked fifteenth.
It was to be noted here, though, that Ancelotti initially had no plans of leaving Everton. Unhappy with the make-up of his squad, the Italian had already started discussing transfer and pre-season plans with the Everton hierarchy, having already rejected an early offer from Real Madrid. However, by the time his second call with Florentino Pérez ended, Carlo had no doubt in his mind as to what he wanted to do next.
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The 61-year-old’s departure suddenly leaves the Merseyside club with nothing but uncertainty regarding their immediate future. With him at the helm, the club were looking ahead to a period of stability and gradual growth, hoping to finally break into the European places, but they now find themselves looking to start all over again. The likes of David Moyes (West Ham United, formerly of Everton), Erik ten Hag (AFC Ajax), Roberto Martínez (Belgium Men’s National Team, also formerly of Everton), and Eddie Howe (last of AFC Bournemouth) are rumoured as considered candidates, with assistant manager and club legend Duncan Ferguson, who had an exciting time as Everton’s interim manager in December 2019, not out of the question either.
Player recruitment is another reason why Everton need to sort the managerial situation out quickly. The likes of James Rodríguez and Allan, who arrived specifically because of Ancelotti, will likely be looking to move on, with Richarlison, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Lucas Digne also likely to be picked up by bigger sides.
Real under Ancelotti
After arriving in Madrid in 2013, Ancelotti yet again went about stabilising the dressing room that was left feral by his predecessor, José Mourinho. Slowly, he was able to get the players together and raise the standard of their performances. Although Los Blancos ended third in LaLiga – three points behind then champions Atlético Madrid – Don Carlo’s men secured not only the Copa del Rey, but also La Décima – the club’s historic tenth UEFA Champions League/European Cup title.
Next season, Real went on to win the UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup, but their performances tailed off in the second half of the season. As they ended 2nd in LaLiga and were knocked out of the UCL by Juventus in semi-finals, President Florentino Pérez did what President Florentino Pérez does best – dismiss the manager.
But here’s the thing with Ancelotti: if he wasn’t a footballing genius, he’d make an ideal career politician. Known for his calm, composed yet shrewd, personality, Ancelotti is very adept at getting along with players and officials alike, making him one of the very best at traversing through political waters both inside and above the dressing room. More importantly, he gets the business aspect of managerial hirings and firings, so even when he leaves a club, the terms between him and his employers are usually amicable. It’s this understanding he brings to the table that has brought Carlo back to the Spanish capital.
Currently, things at Real Madrid are more tumultuous than usual, both on and off the pitch. While they ended the season trophyless – which is already a disaster – they are also under significant, albeit serviceable, debt, what with the renovation of the Santiago Bernabéu, the usual post-COVID economic fallout and the big-money transfers that have failed to make significant, or any, impact so far.
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The discourse regarding The Super League – which Real are still a part of, by the way – has also not done a great deal to help their cause. In all the interviews Florentino Pérez – also the designated chairman of The Super League – has done so far, his defence of going for the now-disbanded competition has remained along the lines of “we are doing this to save football, but also because we need money to buy more Galácticos – money that we currently do not have,” which has done little else than throw more light on the self-inflicted financial mess of these big global enterprises.
Simply put, the current economic climate is not really conducive to a humongous spending spree, leaving the big clubs to consider managerial appointments that would at least keep the club’s standards – both on and off the pitch – afloat. We have already seen this with Juventus bringing back Max Allegri, and now with Ancelotti back at Real, there seems to be an inclination towards putting long-term overhauls momentarily aside in favour of ad hoc stability.
Of course, it’s not that Ancelotti will be given nothing to work with. Real have already secured David Alaba, who Ancelotti has already worked with during his Bayern Munich days. He’ll also be expected to get back on board many out-of-favour players like Gareth Bale, Martin Ødegaard, Isco, and Eden Hazard.
Ancelotti is seasoned enough to know that he almost certainly won’t last his three-year contract at Real Madrid. It’s this understanding that feeds into his calm and calculating persona and prepares him for every eventuality. While his career seemingly felt like slowly drifting into the sunset when he signed for Everton, the Real return – however may it end – certainly gives him a new lease on his managerial life.