CARLO Ancelotti always looks in control, even on those odd occasions when he is not. The suave and sophisticated Italian emits coolness in his own gentle way and, no wonder, he is among the most loved managers in the world.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic considers him a fantastic coach with whom he can speak about anything, Alessandro del Piero says “he’s the best manager of all time” while Real Madrid players famously sang “how could I not love you?” on hijacking his post-match Press conference after their Decima triumph in Lisbon in 2014.
The dignified demeanour of Ancelotti, nicknamed Carletto, has won him plenty of admirers, but what really sets him apart from the rest of his ilk is his trophy collection.
The former Italy midfielder has won Serie A titles with Roma and AC Milan as a player while he has two European Cups as well with the latter.
His coaching exploits are even more astounding.
Three Champions League titles — two with Milan and one with Real — and league triumphs with the Red and Blacks, Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain along with a host of other trophies make him the most successful coach of all time.
And with Bayern threatening to look imperious, that list has every chance of swelling up.
Ancelotti, in Doha with Bayern for their winter training camp which has now become a tradition for the German giants, was his usual cool, composed self as he rubbished media links on Arturo Vidal’s move to Chelsea and also spoke about a wide range of topics — from immediate predecessor Pep Guardiola to his former club PSG.
“We can use this camp to prepare well for the last part of the season,” said Ancelotti, who has been to Doha earlier with Real Madrid, Milan and the Parisians. “This is really important because after this we’ve really big games coming up. We’ve the Champions League knockout matches with Arsenal. So we’ve to be prepared. From September to December we hadn’t much time for proper training so tactically also this is a good time to improve our defence.”
With world-class players in virtually every position, Bayern, a perfect mix of experience and young blood, are among the favourites at the Champions League, and Ancelotti, who took charge this season, would be keen to win it for them after Guardiola could not.
And as he plots to stamp his authority on the European trophy for a fourth time, the Bavarian capital provides him with a perfect atmosphere as compared to some of the other places he worked at, where unreasonably demanding owners and trigger-happy presidents ruled the roost.
Not that he cared much.
Ancelotti has always gone about with his job in his customary fashion, with a chewing gum in his mouth and hands in pockets, and without a moment’s care about unwanted distractions.
Bayern have not exactly had a whirlwind start to the season, but still lead the table by three points at the halfway mark after thumping surprise side RB Leipzig 3-0 in the last match before the break and, as usual, would be overwhelming favourites when they take on Arsenal in the Champions League last 16.
“We didn’t have a great start, but we’re at the top of Bundesliga, we’ve qualified for the Champions League kockouts, and that was our goal for the first half of the season,” said Ancelotti.
“We can improve further and I had a really good feeling after the game against Leipzig and I hope we can continue on these lines,” the 57-year-old said, adding that they were allowed to make mistakes in the first half of the season because there was time to recover.
Bayern are hampered by injuries, with Thiago Alcantara the latest to join Jerome Boateng and Xabi Alonso on the sickbed, but with such a deep squad, Ancelotti ruled out any winter signings. He was even open to the idea of sending Holger Badstuber on loan despite the central defence looking short on staff.
“(David) Alaba can be used in central defence if needed. He has played really well in that position and I’ve a lot of confidence in Javi Martinez and Matt Hummels as well, he said. “The squad is complete and we don’t want to add, at this moment, any new positions.”
With Robert Lewandowski moving towards regaining his insane goal-scoring touch, Thomas Muller searching for his ideal position, Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben staying injury-free, and in the mood to terrorise rival defenders, Bayern have as good a chance as any to hoist the Champions League trophy in Cardiff on June 3.
And none would deserve it more than their manager.