Of all the managers who have come through the revolving door at Chelsea in the last couple decades, there are very few whom I love more than Carlo Ancelotti. Granted, I love Carlo a lot more now than, say, in the "bad moment" of 2010-11 and the subsequent multiple failures against Manchester United in the Champions League and the Premier League, but that's just how it goes. As we saw with Mourinho this season, when you reach the highest of highs, most of the time, there's only downhill to go.
"At Chelsea I won the double. Sacked. At Real Madrid I won La Decima. Sacked. There is no manager in their career that is not sacked. Ferguson was sacked, Lippi sacked, Capello sacked, Mourinho sacked, Benítez. The only one not sacked is Guardiola, but he's still really young. He has plenty of time. One day he will come into our club, the Sack Club."
I believe it was Ancelotti, the cool calm center of this football universe, who once said that getting sacked is part of the job definition of a manager. In modern football, that's only becoming more and more true. It was also Ancelotti who introduced me to one of my favorite sayings -- "football is the most important of the less important things in life" -- though that one actually comes from the legendary Niels Liedholm (captain of the famous Swedish team that lost to Pele's Brazil in the 1958 World Cup final), who was Ancelotti's manager a couple decades later at AS Roma.
"I'd heard it before and I've heard it since, but [Abramovich] was wrong — they are all wrong. It happened at all of them: Palma, Milan, Paris, Chelsea. Always in a difficult moment, someone says, ‘You give the players too much freedom, you have to whip them.' In Italy, they call it la frustra. But that's what you do to horses. They appoint me for being calm. Then they sack me and say ‘too calm'."
"Modern football [...] has no patience. If you aren't patient, you can fight every day. You can fight with the press, the owner, the players, another manager. You can fight with the doctor sometimes . . ."
Please apply cold water to burned area, Messrs. Mourinho and Guardiola.
Unsurprisingly, Jose had picked a few fights with Ancelotti over the years, especially while they were both managing in Italy, but nowadays everything's fine between the two of them, Carlo assures.
"We said, ‘OK, we are old men, we have to stop this.' After that, he sent me a message when I won the Champions League, ‘Congratulations'. I sent him a message when he won the Premier League. That's all settled now. We have no necessity to fight. As I write in the book, we aren't the most important people. That's the players."
-Carlo Ancelotti; source: The Times
Ancelotti's big interview with The Times is part of his promotional tour for this new book, called "Quiet Leadership - winning hearts, minds and matches". That's certainly a fitting summary of Ancelotti's style that has brought him tremendous amounts of success and a career spanning some of Europe's biggest clubs. But he's familiar with other styles as well, including one that, to this day, has inspired him to "put his hand in the fire" at a moment's notice, if needed.
"[Antonio Conte] was my captain at Juventus ['99-'01]. He was always really serious, really focused, really concentrated. As a manager he's the same. He has really good experience, starting in the second division. So he won titles with Bari and Siena before Juventus. He's really focused on the little details. I'm sure he will do a good job."
"Chelsea understand that this is a new cycle. One period stops and another starts. They have to replace Terry, Lampard, not just as the players but the personality, the image. Every club has this moment, Milan when they lost Maldini and Gattuso. It takes time to replace the structure. It makes it a really big challenge. But I spoke with Antonio and he's really excited."
"[The match-fixing trial] is bullsh*t. His case will be solved without problem for him. He won't come with a stain. In Italy, they make a big case because it's him. But with Antonio, I can put my hand in the fire for him. He's really serious, really honest, a really, really good man."
-Carlo Ancelotti; source: The Times via Football Italia
After an endorsement like that, it's time to invest in some burn cream.