The temptation of Carlo Ancelotti

EVERTON fans are understandably confused by the loss of coach Carl Ancelotti, many had not even had the slightest glimpse of the three-times Champions League winner before he flew out to Real Madrid.

Ancelotti could not have known for long that this was a possibility. Zinedine Zidane departed the club only very recently and who could have known that Real’s former manager would be on their list. According to some media reports, Ancelotti was 10th in line on the club’s shopping list, which seems a little unlikely. Why would a club like Real need to opt for someone who was so low among their “must haves”?.

Real Madrid don’t mind going back over old ground, though. They’ve done it several times, including repeat performances from Miguel Muñoz, Alfredo di Stefano, Leo Beenhakker, Fabio Capello and of course, Zidane.

There are suggestions Ancelotti feared for his job at Goodison Park, that club owner Farhad Moshiri was sharpening his axe after Everton’s 2020-21 fizzed-out and the early season promise ended with 10th place in the Premier League. Their dreadful home record was their downfall – nine defeats and only six wins – and 10thposition might have been an improvement, but the club spent almost £ 70 million on new players, taking their gross spending to almost half a billion in four years and net expenditure in that timeframe to £ 233 million.

With a CV that includes top clubs in all five major leagues in Europe, including Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern, Real, Chelsea and AC Milan, money is unlikely the prime motivation for Ancelotti.

But it has to be said, Ancelotti’s record at Everton does not suggest a man at the very top of his game. His win rate was 46.27%, the lowest of his career bar his first job with Reggiana. Everton will never find out if 2020-21 was just a bedding-in campaign and 2021-22 was going to be Everton’s year for solid progress.

The likeable Italian has called the Real job an “unexpected opportunity” and frankly, there’s not many people who would turn down the chance to manage the club and compete in the Champions League. But what about loyalty, the Everton faithful will ask?

Football is not an industry for idealists and old-fashioned virtues. Ancelotti has been in the game long enough to know the sack comes to those who no longer suit their employer. Look at his time at Chelsea – the double in 2010 followed by the sack in the dead of night after the final game at Everton. Yet many Chelsea fans would love to see him back at Stamford Bridge. Generally, he has been popular at most of his clubs, but he also seems to be an easy guy to dispose of. You never hear any squealing.

Fans should not spit on the floor when the name Ancelotti comes up – loyalty works both ways and it is governed by results. But club owners, fans and the media, to some extent, do not take kindly to anyone proactively seeking a new job elsewhere. Ancelotti is a hired gun and Everton were always taking a risk by employing someone who would always attract suitors due to his outstanding track record. Did anyone really expect him to last the distance of his contract? Only the naïve and hopeful, perhaps.

Photo: ALAMY

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