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Ancelotti: “Liverpool is not Madrid, it was almost like living in a constant pandemic”

Carlo Ancelotti was the subject of the latest episode of ‘Universo Valdano’. He spoke about his relationship with Florentino Pérez, Everton, his future and why football is best when it is kept simple.


With the focus on tonight’s Champions League semi-final first leg at the Etihad, Carlo Ancelotti was the subject of the latest episode of Universo Valdano on #Vamos. The Real Madrid coach sat down to chat with Jorge Valdano about his experiences in football and personal way of understanding the game.

Roots, his father and the family’s cheese business. “He was a farmer, we had rented land and cows. The milk was to produce Parmeggiano Reggiano (Parmesan cheese). You had to wait a year for the cheese to mature. He was a very calm, balanced man - that helped to form my character”.

Signing for Parma aged 16. “My mother didn’t want me to go, she wasn’t interested at all in football. I spent four years in a school run by priests, the Salesians, I learned discipline, how to manage my time… I learned how to be responsible - before, I always had mty mother and grandmother to help me. I didn’t like studying, but I ended up becoming a qualified electrician”.

The pressures of football. ”I don’t see it as a sacrifice, it’s a pleasure. You suffer a lot but you enjoy a lot too. I get my energy from the day-to-day routine, that’s what I like. The day-to-day prepares the body for the suffering it takes on the day of the game. If you lose, you don’t sleep and if you win, your mind if going over all of the good things and you can’t sleep either”.

Happy in Madrid. “I’m aware that I am the coach at the biggest club in the world, that the demands are high and I have to accept that. I was perfectly fine at Napoli but coming back to Madrid was special, I never thought it might happen”.

Playing days at Roma. “I had two knee injuries and was practically sidelined for two years. I had to warm my knees up with a heater before a game, and sometimes I’d use hot water. My knee is still a constant worry for me, I don’t have any pain but I always look to see if it’s swollen or not; I do exercises in the pool…”.

At Ac Milan. “Right at the last minute, Capello would leasve m,e on the bench or in the stands and I couldn’t understand it. He told me that when I was a coach, I would understand. Players in my day wanted to become coaches more than modern day players, they find it difficult to put themselves in our shoes”.

Sacchi. “Training in Italy was completely different before him. He changed everything, the individual aspect, physical, tactics in defence and attack… One day he asked us what we didn’t like about training, just for a laugh, we said a mini-match, and he left, he couldn’t handle it. A brilliant coach, who changed the idea of Italian football. It still had a defensive focus but not Catenaccio, it was in the opponents’ half. I remember when we played here in Madrid and they were caught out offside 24 times”.

Being obssesive. “I am not an obssesive person, I like football a lot, it’s a passion of mine, but I try to keep things as simple as possible. Football for me, isn’t complicated, it’s es simple, even in strategy. Attacking requires creativity, defending requires organisation. I can show my players more about defending, attacking is more about being creative and I don’t want to interfere with players’ talent in that. That Modric pass with the outside of his boot - I don’t need to tell him anything - or show Karim where to position himself inside the area. I don’t consider myself to be strict about those things”.

Club presidents. “There are some who are fans and others who are more business-minded. I changes the way a club is run. I prefer presidents who are also fans, because the structure of the club is more like a family. Business-like clubs are much harder to run”.

The 2005 Champions League final against Liverpool and the fightback against Chelsea in this year’s quarter final. ”I told the players that they would press us in the second half. There is the urban myth that we were celebrating at half-time but that is not true. There’s emotional spirit - as we saw with us against Chelsea. We had a two-goal advantage but however well you prepare for a game, these things can happen. Our first half against Chelsea was good but we lacked hunger, the desire to punish them. We had that in the first leg when we didn’t have that two-goal cushion. We made two individual mistakes - the kind of errors we haven’t made all season, our defensive line was broken when we came out to counter-press. So what could we do at half-time? I have never experienced such a radical change in a game by half like the Chelsea return leg, it’s the magic of this club and stadium”.

England. “The kitman at Madrid lives and feels every game more than say, Chelsea’s kitman. That’s the only way I can describe the difference between how they are over there and how we latinos are. I learned a lot in England, we won the Premier League and the FA Cup and two years later, they sacked me”.

Florentino. “He is the president but also a fan. No other president has been as successful, he’s like Berlusconi, they have their clubs in the hearts until the day they die. Our relationship during my second spell at the club is more relaxed and stable. For what I have achieved and for his idea for the future of the club. We have a team that never stops, when we celebrate, it’s over and done with quickly because… immediately there is something else on the horizon. That’s why Madrid have won so much, losing isn’t a comfortable place to be”.

Napoli. “It’s the prettiest city in the world to be on holiday. I’d train in the morning and in the afternoon, take a boat and have dinner in Capri (laughs). It’s one of the good clubs in Italy. Their objective is to be among the top four clubs. In my second season, I had a disagreement with the club as they wanted the team to have a hotel stayover and I didn’t”.

Everton. “They have very passionate fans, and I really liked that, we were unlucky that we couldn’t enjoy ourselves more at Goodison. The team finished on 60 points, a miracle, but we won more on the road than at home. It was a good time. Liverpool isn’t Madrid, it was almost like living in a constant pandemic (laughs)”.

Your future. “I want to be a university professor of football, I hope UEFA or someone give me an academic title so I can set exams for those who have an opinion on football, to see if they really know (laughs). When I leave coaching, I’d like to do something else, I have five grandkids, I’ve married for the second time and and we haven’t done much together, we have to do more, I want to enjoy my time with my wife. When it’s all over, I’ll be anoether fan in the stands at Madrid and Milan”.


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