Glenn Moore: The quiet conqueror

He has won the European Cup as a player and manager, and knows how to handle an unpredictable billionaire owner – the unassuming Carlo Ancelotti may well fit in at Stamford Bridge

Should Carlo Ancelotti become Roman Abramovich's sixth manager in as many years at Chelsea he will arrive with three important qualifications. He has won the Champions League twice as a player (in its original incarnation as the European Cup) and twice as a manager, he is used to accommodating an interfering owner, and he has an even temperament.

That last quality has proved invaluable while managing Milan. Ancelotti's latest dispute with Silvio Berlusconi looks to be terminal but the 49-year-old has not survived eight years in one of the hottest of management positions – there had been seven coaches in five seasons prior to Ancelotti – without knowing when to appease the grandstanding Prime Minister of Italy, and when to hold his ground.

The issue that has vexed Berlusconi most about Ancelotti is also the one part of his CV that does not fit the Abramovich wish-list. Berlusconi has regularly demanded his team play more attacking football. As Milan are effectively an advertisement for Berlusconi's aggressive, can-do approach to politics, he desires a team that wins hearts and minds as well as trophies. Abramovich is less inclined to make regular pronouncements in the press but his coterie of advisers has made it clear he wants to see entertaining football of a nature which neither Jose Mourinho, Avram Grant, Luiz Felipe Scolari nor Guus Hiddink consistently produced. Indeed, none has presided over as entertaining a team as Claudio Ranieri, the coach Abramovich inherited.

Sometimes Ancelotti paid attention to Berlusconi, sometimes he did not. As Ancelotti once said: "In the end it has to be the coach who decides. And it is important the players understand it is the coach who decides. Mr Berlusconi understands this perfectly well." Which perhaps explains why Berlusconi would often as not conduct his diplomacy in the media, knowing the fans (and voters) would be on his side even if the manager disagreed.

Not that Ancelotti is wedded to a defensive game. There has certainly been no shortage of flair in his team. The current squad includes Kaka, Ronaldinho, Clarence Seedorf, Alexandre Pato and Andrea Pirlo. Plus, of course, David Beckham and Andrei Shevchenko. The latter's return is a clear example of Berlusconi's interference, and his absence from the team-sheet an equally obvious indication of Ancelotti's determination to stand by his own judgement. As important as any of the above, however, have been defenders like Paolo Maldini and Alessandro Costacurta, and midfielders like Gennaro Gattuso. Milan have always had a balanced side and, aside from a crazy 15 minutes in the European Cup final against Liverpool in Istanbul four years ago, been hard to break down.

The same can be said of the great Milan team Ancelotti played in which has clearly influenced his management philosophy. Arrigo Sacchi, who later hired Ancelotti as an assistant to the Azzurri at the 1994 World Cup, had players of outstanding skill, such as Marco van Basten and Ruud Gullit, but also a team with a formidable work-rate and pressing game.

Ancelotti's midfield partnership with Frank Rijkaard was a key aspect of the team but it is the Dutchman and his compatriots who people think of when they remember that team. Not that Ancelotti appears to mind. He keeps an equally low profile as a manager. He does the press, but he does not seek attention in the way Mourinho does. Inevitably, like everyone else in Italy, he has been irritated by Mourinho even before the latter took over at city rivals Internazionale. Mourinho's previous touting for the Milan post prompted Ancelotti to say: "Is Mourinho up for my job? If we'd known earlier we could have found him a job. Helping the goalkeeper coach? No, he's never played football, he wouldn't be capable of shooting on goal." Mourinho responded: "My dentist is great, even though he's never had a toothache."

Ancelotti also noted he had won two Champions league titles, but that did not make him "special". He has won much else besides, but was once known in Italy as "un perdente" – a loser. This followed three second-place finishes in Serie A, first with Parma, which was respectable, then twice with Juventus, which was not. The first, in 2000, was the afternoon when Juve's match at Perugia was interrupted by a downpour. When referee Pierluigi Collina demanded that it resume, with most fans having gone home, Juve conceded to hand Sven Goran Eriksson's Lazio the title. Juve fired Ancelotti but Berlusconi, searching for stability, had been impressed. In his second season he delivered the Champions League, defeating Juventus on penalties at Old Trafford. In his third, the title. It is, though, Milan's only Serie A success in his eight seasons, which is as good a reason as any for him to exit

If he does move he will have to leave his base of many years. Born in Emilia-Romagna, he has spent most of his life in and around Parma raising a family which includes 19-year-old Davide, who was on Milan's books as a youngster but now plays in Serie D. Famously Davide once attended a press conference at which Ancelotti was being asked about signing Jaap Sam. Father denied everything until Davide said: "But Dad, why don't you want Stam, you're always talking about him?" The son is understood to be a big fan of English football, so much so that Carlo would consult him about Premier League players. Davide may have been receiving plenty of phone calls recently.

5

Milan's success in 2003 made Carlo Ancelotti only the fifth person to win the European Cup as both a player and as a manager.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate