Carlo Ancelotti enjoys a successful career during his lifetime in football either as a footballer or football coach. His prominent peak as midfielder came at Milan during 80’s and 90’s with two scudetto and double Champions League titles. Since retired in 1992 and serving as an assistant coach for Italian national team until 1995, Ancelotti began his coaching career debut in Serie B side, Reggiana.
In his official debut as first team coach (1995-96) Ancelotti managed the Reggio Emilia-based club to achieved promotion into Serie A. Then only one season, Ancelotti signed for his former professional team as a footballer, Parma.
Carlo Ancelotti played under coach Arrigo Sacchi in Milan with his preferences of attacking football, 4-4-2, and obsession with spaces. Indeed, Ancelotti had inspired by former boss tactical mastermind in his approach as a football coach. During his reigns in Reggiana and Parma, Ancelotti succeeds with scheme 4-4-2 as well.
However, as a young coach who less experienced, Ancelotti so rigorous at the time. He gently forced the players to adjust in the 4-4-2 formation and ignored their potential. One figure who had been willingly sacrificed by Ancelotti it was Gianfranco Zola. He deployed as a left midfielder, despite naturally Zola was a creative attacking midfielder or trequartista.
Moreover, Ancelotti once turned down the chance for signing one of the best Italian players ever had, Roberto Baggio to Parma. Ancelotti thought the Divine Ponytail wouldn’t adjust to the team because there was no room for trequartista.
Unfortunately, Ancelotti’s obsession with only one tactical profile cost his career immediately. He was sacked by Parma in 1998 with no titles at all. The best achievement it was Serie A runner-up in the 1996-97 season.
The Dynamic of Thoughts
In his thesis as a final requirement for coaching qualification (1997) in Coverciano, Ancelotti wrote “Il Futuro Del Calcio: Piu Dinamicita” or “The Future of Football: More Dynamics.”
Consciously or not, essentially the Ancelotti’s thesis it was self-reflection on his tactical dynamics in future. From conventional and stuck with 4-4-2’s Sacchi, he has been reforming himself into the flexible and adaptive in approach as a football coach.
Since he was sacked by Parma in the middle of 1998, Ancelotti got himself to manage a big club in Italy, Juventus from early 1999 until summer 2001. Despite the Intertoto Cup was only his achievement in Juventus, Ancelotti had learned to established flexibility and adaptive approach at the time.
Ancelotti had combined the trio of Filippo Inzaghi, Alessandro Del Piero, and Zinedine Zidane up front under the formation; 3-4-1-2. Ancelotti chooses to pair Zidane and Del Piero together despite both players are trequartista. On the pitch, Del Piero drops to the center-left side and created attacking midfielders duo partnership alongside Zidane to support the goal poacher, Inzaghi.
What Ancelotti did to Del Piero and Zidane, might be intended to avoid the deja vu in Gianfranco Zola mismanaged. A gifted player who provides the fantasy for the game like Gianfranco Zola should be given proper role in the team.
When Ancelotti coached Milan (2001-2009), his dynamic thought was discovered Andrea Pirlo’s role then. He knew Pirlo had great vision and passing ability as trequartista, despite lack speed and physical strength. Pirlo struggled to show his magic things when he got hard chased directly by the opposing defensive players.
So, Ancelotti thought Pirlo should be placed in front of Milan defender, then he could dictate attack with his passing skills from the deep line, as well as to freed him from pressure by opponent’s defensive players at the same time.
Andrea Pirlo famous role under Ancelotti era later called as deep-lying playmaker or regista. His positional play is the defensive midfielder, but the role isn’t only to give defensive efforts, but also initiate the attack from the deep line with his great vision and precise passing skills. Another Carletto legacy in Milan it was Christmas tree formation (4-3-2-1) or the advanced (4-3-1-2), which adopted by Italy in World Cup 2006 then.
The dynamic thoughts with flexibility and adaptative approach as a football coach also drove Ancelotti’s career history when he managed several big teams like Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain, Madrid, and Bayern Muenchen.
In London, he opted to stand on Avram Grant’s (Jose Mourinho obviously) legacy in wide formation 4-3-3, after hearing what The Blues players preferences on the team tactic at the time. Carlo only changed the defensive oriented to be more balanced and effective on their players game mentalities.
In France capital city, Ancelotti continued Antoine Koumbare’s work on mixed Paris Saint-Germain squad between pre and post-Qatari reign since 2011.
When Real Madrid appointed him as entrenador in 2013, Carletto might have one of the best world class squad who nearly came to the peak at the time. Subsequently, he used the flexible tactically, more balances shift, and effectiveness either in defense, transition and attack to boost the stabilization in Madrid world-class squad quality. These Ancelotti work later became the cornerstone for Zinedine Zidane era.
However, Ancelotti’s time in Bayern (2016) was different from before. He totally changed the team mentalities from attacking and possession football fetish under Pep Guardiola to be more balanced and effective football.
A tough challenge: Napoli
Last two seasons, beautiful football in Napoli aren’t a strange view for us. However, Ancelotti couldn’t easy to re-establish what so-called that Sarriball principles. First, Carletto is not an attacking oriented football coach as well. In other hands, the whole Napoli squad needs more time in adapting to the new playing system under Ancelotti, despite the coach still retaining 4-3-3 formation.
Second, there was no Jorginho-esque anymore in Partenopei, a player who can distribute the ball like the BrazItaliano player. Instead, Carletto drop Captain Marek Hamsik to deploy him in regista role, because might too risky to place soon a newcomer like Fabian Ruiz or Amadou Diawara who needs more experiences in the first team.
Third, the gap in quality between the first team and their substitutes, mainly in the defensive area. Aged Raul Albiol, average Vlad Chiriches, stagnated Nikola Maksimovic and less experience Sebastiano Luperto aren’t enough supplies to be partnered and competed with Kalidou Koulibaly.
In other hands, to replace legend Christian Maggio and provide internal competition to Elseid Hysaj, Napoli only brought unknown footballer like Kevin Malcuit from Lille.
The only safe position is left back or goalkeeper. Faouzi Goulam return from the long-term injury means the Algerian will seize his place soon or later over the Portugal international player, Mario Rui. The same thing if wonderkid Alex Meret recovers from injury and ready to challenge Colombian international, David Ospina as portiere numero uno.
The quality of Napoli squad this season is slightly regressed. The additional players who proven with their qualities are Simone Verdi or David Ospina, others are just average or youngster.
Therefore undeniably, Ancelotti would be facing complicate circumstances, when he needs rotating the team week by week. Moreover, Napoli will feature in three competitions, especially in Serie A and Champions League. So, the squad qualities are important things as also quantities in the team.
Carlo Ancelotti almost often success to gained some achievements in every team he managed, despite he almost always had been sacked too in every team he managed before.
However, Carletto capabilities couldn’t be underestimating easily. He still remains as a coach who won three Champions League as well as the bunch of trophies in football countries like Italy, England, France, and Germany. Carlettto is a genuine top football coach after all.
This time, Carlo Ancelotti reputation as a football coach who has flexible and adaptive approach alongside with hugely successful career and achievements, would meet a tough challenge in Napoli. Subsequently, let us see how the dynamics of Don Carletto’s thoughts settle this challenge he has, could he answer this tough challenge in a good result?
(Writer: Haris Chaebar)
Photo sources: Carlo Ancelotti twitter, 101greatgoals.com, and elfutbolesinjusto.com