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Carlo Ancelotti is Walking on Thin Ice in Madrid
Real Madrid silenced their critics with their victory in the 2014 Champion's League finals over city rivals Athletico Madrid in Lisbon. The Los Blancos crowned what was particularly not a good season (on paper) with 2 trophies after having won the Spanish cup earlier in the campaign against bitter rivals Barcelona by a lone Gareth Bale goal.
All of this came after the departure of their "superstar" manager, Jose Mourinho, whose failure to capture the champions league in 3 consecutive seasons, and a series of dressing room brouhaha left the Portuguese with no other option but to return to Chelsea, a team he enjoys immeasurable admiration after having delivered them their first domestic trophy in half a century in his first season there.
Can Real Madrid make History by Winning the 2014/15 Champion's League?
The Los Merengues owe most of the success they enjoyed last campaign to Mourinho's successor, Carlo Ancelotti, as the Italian was able to weather the storm in the dressing room and get the team playing like a unit once again. And although, personnel-wise, his team was not that different from the one he inherited from his predecessor (save for their record breaking Welshman - Gareth Bale), Carlo Ancelotti was able to get the Los Vikingos much further than they have been able to get to in over a decade; capturing the admiration of many in the process.
Carlo Ancelotti signed for Real Madrid in the Summer of 2013 from French powerhouse, Paris Saint Germain (PSG). Before taking over at the Paris club, the Italian held the helm at English side Chelsea where he won his only English premier league title in his maiden season in charge. He also helped Chelsea to an English FA cup title after having already won the FA Community Shield earlier in his first competitive match of the season with the Blues.
Unfortunately, however, the Big Italian saw his job taken from him at the end of his second year in charge of the Blues following a series of poor results (especially in the Champions League) and a failure to impress the club's billionaire owner at the end of the season.
Three years on, and successes in PSG and Real Madrid aplenty, and Ancelotti is beginning to face the same daunting challenges that saw him get the sack at Chelsea at the Santiago Estadio Bernabeu all over again.
Besides having had the same man in charge of their teams, one other thing Real Madrid has had in common with Chelsea over the last decade or so is a knack for discarding managers at will. Chelsea have seen 10 managers walk through the gates of Stamford bridge since 2000 while Real Madrid have had to part ways with 11 managers already, with Ancelotti being the 12th.
A Real Madrid legend, Santillana, has sent some candid words of caution the Italian's way regarding his future should the sudden dip in form his team is current having persist. Commenting on the crop of Madrid stars and their current form, the former Spanish international stressed that "Carlo Ancelotti has a tremendous squad but no coach is indispensable at the Santiago Bernabeu."
Cause for Concern
The Los Blancos are currently experiencing their worst form in quick succession as they have suffered 3 defeats and 1 draw in their last 5 matches this season already. Their surprise loss to Real Sociedad on the last day of August after leading with two early goals in just 11 minutes in the game, was immediately followed by yet another to their city rivals Athletico Madrid.
Real Madrid have now failed to win against Athletico Madrid in 3 games this season after having lost to Diego Simeone's men at the the Vicente Calderon, gifting their city rivals the Spanish cup in the process. The best Madrid have managed against their city rivals this season has been a 1:1 draw at home in the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup.
What is particularly worrying about the timing for the dip in Madrid's form at the moment is the fact that it coincides with the departures of Angel Di Maria and Xabi Alonso, two very influential midfielders in the Madrid fold. Even more disturbing is the fact that no one seem to have a clue what the solution to the problem is, not even Ancelotti himself, as the Madrid boss has admitted that the haplessness of his team is his responsibility and something needs to change.
He further apologized adding that: "I am sorry because I do not like it that the team have played in this way. You have to quickly change the things that have not gone well." That admission from the Italian boss came after the defeat to Read Sociedad, only for Madrid to suffer yet another defeat a fortnight later (to Athletico) bringing to question what needs to change.
Should Carlo Ancelotti get the sack?
Light in the Horizon
Real Madrid welcomed Swiss champions, FC Basel to the Bernabeu on Tuesday (September 16) for their champion's league opener for the 2014/15 season, and their first match since their 2:1 league loss to Athletico Madrid.
Any rumours of Cristiano Ronaldo's fitness were put to rest as the Portuguese talisman put on a 5-star display against the Swiss side seeing the Galacticos to a 5:1 stumping of their visitors on the night. Goals from Gareth Bale, James Rodriguez, Karim Benzema & Cristiano Ronaldo ensured that the all Whites get back to winning ways in style in front of their home fans.
With the win over FC Basel in Champions League, Madrid is beginning to show signs of early recovery as they have now recorded their 1000th goal in European competition. A worthy milestone no doubt.
But, be that as it may, Carlo Ancelotti continues to walk on thin ice in Madrid as history has shown time and time again that no coach is irreplaceable at the club.
The victory against Basel could not have come at a better time and may just as well be the catalyst for a complete turnaround in Madrid's fortunes; one that the club, and especially the manager, could really use at the moment.