Carletto’s Way

May 3, 2017 OPINION/NEWS , Sport

Reuters photo



Bikash Mohapatra


…is a pragmatic, result-oriented approach that has ensured its propounder unprecedented success. It is based on the most basic of HR concepts: employee engagement.



I’m really happy, especially after our difficult period.”

Carlo Ancelotti speaking to Sky Deutschland after Bayern Munich had secured a record fifth successive Bundesliga title.



For starters, Bayern lost to Real Madrid in the Champions League quarter-finals and suffered a 3–2 DFB Pokal semi-final defeat to their biggest domestic rivals Borussia Dortmund in the same week. However, die Roten put their recent disappointment behind them, cruising to their 27th German league title and thereby helping Ancelotti in a way.


The Bavarian club’s 6–0 thrashing of VfL Wolfsburg was not only historic for the club but also a personal milestone for their manager. The triumph helped Ancelotti secure an unprecedented record. The Italian has now won a title (of any kind) in Europe’s top five leagues – Spain (La Liga), Germany (Bundesliga), England (Premier League), Italy (Serie A) and France (Ligue 1). Moreover, he has won the league title in four of these five countries.


Ancelotti has now added a Bundesliga title to those in Serie A (with AC Milan in 2004), Premier League (with Chelsea in 2010) and Ligue 1 (with Paris Saint-Germain in 2013). Not to forget, he has also led Milan (twice) and Real Madrid to Champions League titles.


No other coaches, past or present, come close.


There are contemporary coaches who are more high profile than Ancelotti; Jose Mourinho, Pep Guardiola, Antonio Conte, Diego Simeone.


If we go into their records, Mourinho has won trophies in England, Spain, Italy and his native Portugal – the sixth best league in Europe.


Guardiola has won trophies in Spain and Germany. Conte in his native Italy, and now most certainly in England – his Chelsea side is well-placed for a fifth Premier League title.


Among other notable names, Louis van Gaal has picked up titles in Spain, Germany, England and his native The Netherlands – though the Eredivisie is no longer the force it was back then.


However, none of the above are remotely close to Ancelotti.


Ditto for the eminent names of yesteryear. There are many who won titles aplenty in multiple countries. Ernst Happel, the first manager to have won the European Cup (now Champions League) with two different clubs – Feyenoord Rotterdam (1970) and SV Hamburg (1983) – won both league and domestic cup titles in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and his native Austria.


Tomislav Ivic won eight league titles in six different countries – the erstwhile Yugoslavia (his native), The Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal, Spain and France.


The legendary Giovanni Trapattoni, who has had success in every major tournament, won league titles in four different countries – Italy, Germany, Portugal and Austria.


Though impressive the caliber of the leagues won by the eminent names above varied, from good to just above average.


That’s precisely where Ancelotti stands apart.


For someone who was a relatively successful footballer, he played as central midfielder in manager Nils Liedholm’s Milan side, winning two Scudetti and two European Cups, among other titles – Ancelotti has earned more fame as coach.


After stints at Reggiana, Parma and Juventus, with varying degree of success, Ancelotti started his winning run after joining Milan in 2001.


Carletto, as he is fondly referred to as, managed the Rossoneri to eight titles – including a Scudetto (2004) and the Champions League (2003 & 2007). In his first year after joining Chelsea in 2009, Ancelotti helped the Stamford Bridge side achieve a first ever domestic double – Premier League and FA Cup.


After helping Paris Saint-Germain to a first league title in 19 years (2013), the Italian headed to the biggest of them all. Real Madrid!


In the year 2014, Ancelotti managed Real to four titles, including the much awaited La Decima – a 10th Champions League title.


In the last four months of that year, his Real side set a Spanish record of 22 consecutive match victories in all competitions that culminated with the club’s first FIFA Club World Cup title in December.


However, despite his many successes, Ancelotti couldn’t win the La Liga in his two years in charge, and the impatient (rather ruthless) bosses in Madrid didn’t give him any more chance, a chance that he definitely deserved.


After a year off, Ancelotti took charge at the Allianz Arena and has expectedly delivered a trophy in his maiden season.


Much of Ancelotti’s success owes to his impeccable man management skills, flexibility in approach and willingness to adapt.


After being rigid in the early stages of his coaching career – as the manager of Parma he once impeded the transfer of Roberto Baggio, believing the Italian playmaker won’t fit into his tactical plans, a decision he later regretted – Ancelotti was quick to alter his methods.


Carletto’s Way is a pragmatic, result-oriented approach that has ensured its propounder unprecedented success.


It is based on the most basic of HR concepts: employee engagement, wherein the personal equation between the coach and the player becomes sacrosanct and takes precedence over everything else.


“It’s true, I would like to have a good relationship with my players. Many people confuse that with softness – but that is not quite right,” Ancelotti told Süddeutsche Zeitung during an interview last year.


Over the years the 57-year-old has become an able man-manager who modifies tactics to suit his players rather than doing it the other way round.


At Juventus, for example, he abandoned his favored 4–4–2 in order to accommodate French playmaker Zinedine Zidane in his preferred free role behind the strikers.


Likewise at Milan, Ancelotti played Andrea Pirlo as a defensive midfielder, in front of the team’s back-line, as a deep-lying playmaker in a 4–3–1–2 or 4–1–2–1–2 formation.


With Chelsea, the Italian played the diamond formation successfully for a few months before making a seamless transition to a more standard 4–3–3.


At Real Madrid, he deployed a 4–3–3 formation to great effect, allowing Angel Di Maria to flourish. Ditto with Bayern, players like Thiago Alcantara benefiting as a result.


For those who question his tactics, or criticize him as being easy-going, a little too soft on players, Ancelotti’s achievements in his two-decade long career offer the perfect response. The Bundesliga win with Bayern is just a new addition to his personal Hall of Fame.


Football is the most important of the less important things in the world,” Ancelotti was once quoted as saying.


With this unique achievement of having won titles in all the five major leagues in Europe the Italian has further bolstered his status as the most important coach in the world. In terms of the quality of achievements, at the least.






Bikash Mohapatra

A firm believer in the adage ‘variety is the spice of life’, New Delhi-based Bikash Mohapatra has been a human resource manager, a communication specialist, a strategist, a media professional and a researcher/writer at various stages of his career, acquiring a new set of skills with every additional responsibility.

Outside of work he is an avid traveler, with an innate desire to learn about various people, places and cultures. It is this ‘travel education’, coupled with varied ‘professional experience’ that manifest into thoughts and take the shape of detailed and elaborate narratives.


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