Carlo Ancelotti is not a stranger to sackings. After finishing second with Chelsea in 2010-2011, the Blues sacked him within an hour of a 1-0 loss at Goodison Park. He finished his post-match press duties and the Chelsea CEO, Ron Gourlay was waiting for him outside the media suite to tell him that his tenure as Blues’ boss was over.
Bayern Munich were not as swift. They waited until the next day after Bayern’s biggest Champions League defeat in 21 years. The 3-0 loss in Paris was enough for Karl-Heinz Rummenigge (Bayern’s CEO) and Hasan Salihamidzic (Sporting Director) to meet with Carlo the very next day and inform him that he must go.
“I am now on holiday – but I am not sure how long my holiday will be”, Ancelotti had said after the Chelsea sacking six years back. Similar feelings must be going through his head after Thursday. He already took a year’s sabbatical after leaving Real Madrid in May 2015. That was after winning the La Liga and Champions League with Real Madrid, so it was voluntary.
This is not so. For now, Ancelotti seems to have landed a fun coaching gig in Jerusalem, as he will be coaching the youth in the historic city for a day on October 2. But, he will be raring to have a go at managing a major club and having a go at a title or two again. The question is, which are the possible destinations that Ancelotti could land up at?
Based on his recent history and pedigree, I think that the criteria he bases his choice of a club are – stature of the club, quality of the existing players, and the willingness of the owners/board to spend more. Based on these criteria and the statuses of various major clubs in top European leagues, it seems that three clubs could be his top potential destinations.
For the last few seasons, Arsenal supporters are going through what can be called as “groundhog season”. Every season starts with a disappointing summer transfer window, then come to a few defeats against top rivals, and then the #Wengerout hashtags begin. This is followed up with a late surge of form, which results in a top four-finish or an FA Cup trophy and then it all begins again. While Arsene Wenger has signed a two-year extension this summer, the way the Gunners have started 2017-18, is not very different from that pattern. Many fans would forgive the board if they show Wenger the door and let a serial winner like Ancelotti in.
Of course, as soon as the story of Ancelotti’s sacking broke on Twitter, Arsenal fans were making a beeline to invite him to their club. Media rumours have also emerged that the Italian is also interested in the job. Arsenal have the stature and the spending power to make him interested, but their board might not be as willing a spender as Ancelotti has been accustomed to in his last few jobs.
Before they appointed Jurgen Klopp in October 2015, Liverpool were also interested in Ancelotti as a replacement for Brendan Rodgers. But they chose Jurgen Klopp, and for a couple of seasons, it seemed that the German was simply untouchable at Anfield. But this season has started with the same problems from the past, and it appears that Klopp is vulnerable after all. Further, he is one of the favourites to replace Ancelotti at Bayern.
It is because of this last reason that FSG might be forced to get in touch with Ancelotti. Liverpool also fit Ancelotti’s requirements to the same extent as Arsenal – they have stature, they have a good squad, and FSG have money to spend. But their willingness to spend might be limited for Ancelotti’s taste.
Ancelotti had his most successful tenure at AC Milan, guiding them to three Champions League finals and two victories, along with one Scudetto. This season, after suffering several seasons of mediocrity, AC Milan have almost entirely refreshed their squad. But their current sixth position in the Serie A table does not justify their spending spree. As of now the club director, Massimiliano Mirabelli has dismissed all talk of getting Ancelotti back, and manager Vincenzo Montella is joking that Ancelotti can be his assistant (or vice versa) but Serie A has proven to be fickle in the past. Things change quickly, and if AC Milan do not go up the table soon, there could be a job opening at Ancelotti’s old club.
AC Milan suit Ancelotti’s ideal club nearly perfectly. They can spend, they have spent and accumulated several good players, and few clubs are bigger in world football. Moreover, it would be well-known environs for the Italian.
Football management jobs will keep popping up across Europe, now that the season has begun in the earnest and boards and fans have started to be disappointed. But for Carlo Ancelotti, the job he chooses next will definitely be at a big club in keeping with his recent pedigree. I believe that Arsenal, Liverpool, and AC Milan will be the best bets as his next potential destinations.