Wednesday, 26 September 2012

REMEMBER CARLO ANCELOTTI ?

As the new soccer season in Europe cranks into gears, the stereotypical fan is bound to go through a range of emotions  that gravitates between ecstasy and morose. Top of the World one day, down at the bottom the next.  It's a symptom of the insanity  that soccer and it's zero some nature evokes. The game is inherently volatile due to it's "only results matter " configuration.  I have been to grounds to  watch matches  a few times in my life, and only after the did i realize what a primal scene ; and was i really part of that ? the atmosphere is raw, intoxicating, and bestial, and yes, i did scream crudely too.

Perhaps against this backdrop, you can see why Club Presidents, Chairmen, and  Owners  can be brutal and merciless when it comes to dismissing coaches if expectations are not fulfilled ; conversely a manager is viewed with rose tinted spectacles, when he delivers "success ". He is elevated to epiphanic status. He made "useless" players become better than ever, he got the players to play "as a team once again ", and all the accompanying drivel from fans, pundits, talk shows, and the newspapers, saturates the air. It presents a juxtaposition of the wild extremes that mutually reinforce parochialism in the game

I watched PSG ( Paris Saint- German ) play away to Bastia at the weekend,  primarily to view a coach i admire and respect, and who so happened to be  one time,  a Chelsea manager. Remember Carlo Ancelotti ? I can vouch  some Chelsea fans reading this would be scratching their heads, and probably break into a wry smile. He was on Roman Abramovich's radar for a long time. Carlo Ancelotti had been at AC Milan for 8 years,  winning the  Italian league championship ( in 2004 ) , the champions league twice ( 2003 and 2007 ) plus the FIFA Club world championship in 2007. Under his reign, AC Milan were arguably Europe's most attractive team to watch, particularly between 2002 and 2004. Ancelotti got the side playing with flair, and the entertainment value was five star.  In the summer of 2009, Roman Abramovich got his man.  It was a tremendous capture, and a testament  to the grand ambitions of Chelsea,  to lure such a high profile name to Stamford bridge.  In his first season (2009 /2010 ) he won the Premiership and FA cup, becoming only  the second foreign manager to achieve that feat (winning the double ) in one season. He was hailed as a miracle worker. Through all of the adulation, and hysteria about his achievements,  the Man maintained a gracious and modest aura. He was measured, unswerving, and forthright in his assessment of his team and the opposition. Above all, he conducted himself honourably.  The following season, (2010 / 2011) his assistant coach - Ray Wilkins was sacked in controversial circumstances by Roman Abramovich  with only one-third of the season played. Many Managers would have cut and run at such a decision, whether from the owner or not, seeing it as undermining his authority. Carlo Ancelotti was too modest to rock the boat, and he got on things, hardly ever making excuses which would have been the natural thing to do as a self sustaining ploy. The mega signings of David Luis and Fernando Torres by Chelsea's owner in the january transfer window of 2011 was probably designed to kick start Chelsea's push for the premiership, but in hindsight was counter productive move. Chelsea's hopes of retaining the premiership was dying in installments even with the new acquisitions. Carlo Ancelotti got sacked by Chelsea's owner over poor results in May 2011. It was done in such an unceremonious and nasty manner, almost immediately after the defeat to Everton on the last day of the season. Man united had knocked Chelsea out of the champions league in the quarter finals, and beat them to the premiership crown ; so, i concur that  was a blow to the kidney, but to sack a manager of such pedigree in cold blooded fashion, two hours or less after a game, was obnoxious and unforgivable. That underlines the myopic extremes that shape the game. Decent men like Carlo Ancelotti deserve better. I doubt he would ever have disdainful things to say about how he was treated - such is the man.

Carlo Ancelotti is rebuilding his career  at a Club whose stock is on the rise. Watching his PSG team over the weekend brought back memories of his all conquering AC Milan team. Easy on the eye, they play with flair and panache,  high in work rate and tenacity too. He stood looking intently, but never the sort to perform histrionics on the sidelines, neither does he bellow instructions incessantly. He exuded calm authority. In a very hostile stadium, PSG snuffed out Bastia, to emerge 4-0 winners, and keep them  joint second in LIGUE 1.  PSG had been through a rough patch in recent years, but with Qatar Investment Authority gaining full control over the Club in 2011, things are looking up. Carlo Ancelotti was hired at the end of 2011, and the new owners have splashed the Petro dollars about.... They promised to spend well over £80 million, and have so far lived up to their promise. Brazilian defender Alex(from Chelsea) Javier Pastore ( from Parlermo) Ezequiel Lavezzi( from Napoli ) Thiago  Silva (from AC Milan)  Mohamed Sissoko ( from Juventus) Thiago Motta (from Inter Millan)   Gregory Van der Wiel ( from Ajax)  Zlatan Ibrahimovic  ( from AC Milam ) and  the icing on the cake Lucas Moura ( joins in january 20213 from  Sao Paulo ) amongst others, have been recruited to team up with the  hitherto established players like Mamadou Sahko and NENE.  If  Qatar Investment Authority continue to flex their financial muscle, it won't be too long before Carlo Ancelotti brings in a haul of silverware to PSG. When that happens, this dignified coach would have completed  his rehabilitation after the cold treatment Chelsea handed him. Soccer has it's fairy tales, and who can bet against Chelsea bumping into PSG in the champions league this term.  Revenge would absolutely mean a dish best served cold. Carlo Ancelotti, i can imagine would play that down, but i believe it's in the stars some where. I'll remind you about it later.......