OPINION

Carlo Ancelotti's second season syndrome strikes again

The sacked Bayern Munich coach has again paid the price for his laissez-faire approach. He has a history of leaving clubs at the end or during his second season in charge, writes DW's Mark Meadows.

Fussball | 2017 Audi Cup | FC Bayern München vs FC Liverpool (picture-alliance/empics)

Carlo Ancelotti has left Bayern Munich in a similar timeframe to most of his other managerial jobs and the statistic cannot just be a coincidence.

He was sacked by Parma in 1998 after his second campaign, was dismissed by Juventus following his second full season in charge, was fired by Chelsea and Real Madrid after two campaigns and has now been dumped by Bayern in his second season.

He also asked to leave Paris St Germain at the end of...yes you have guessed it, his second season.

Of course he spent one promotion season at Reggiana at the start of his managerial career and won two Champions Leagues during eight years at AC Milan (where eventually he was eased out) but the general two-season pattern is clear.

The reason why he only appears to last two seasons also seems clear, he is very hands-off and struggles to jolt his sides into action when things start to go wrong.

At Chelsea, Real and Bayern he inherited already strong teams from heavyweight coaches and to some extent rode off the back of their success in his first campaigns.

He took over from Guus Hiddink at Chelsea in 2009 after the Dutchman had steadied the ship after Luiz Felipe Scolari's tumultuous reign by winning the FA Cup. 

Ancelotti changed very little at Chelsea and won a Premier League and FA Cup double in his first season. But the next campaign he failed to rejuvenate an ageing side, often looking almost helpless on the bench when games went awry. He was sacked after finishing second in the Premier League.

At Real, the Italian succeeded Jose Mourinho, who left an impressive legacy. Ancelotti picked up the baton and triumphed in the Champions League in his first season, only to go off the boil and end up being sacked at the end of his second campaign having alarmed the Bernabeu hierarchy by what they saw as his overly laid back approach.  

Lack of urgency

Now he has been fired at Bayern in similar circumstances, albeit much earlier in his second season. He inherited a near perfect side from Pep Guardiola and proceeded to win the Bundesliga, his fourth title in four European leagues, last season. But his laissez-faire attitude and seeming lack of urgency when in difficulty appear to have cost him yet another job.

Meadows Mark Kommentarbild App

DW Sports Correspondent Mark Meadows

His has a reputation for putting players onto the pitch and just telling them to go and play. This may be partly unfair and his actions during Wednesday's 3-0 Champions League defeat by Paris St Germain partly contradict that image - but ultimately also contributed to his sacking.

To leave Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery, Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng out of the starting line-up in the biggest game of the season so far was certainly eye-opening, and clearly did not go down well with club powerbrokers Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Uli Hoeness.

It almost felt as if he was surrendering the game against the might of Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani. Bayern do not do that, they try to win every game they play, especially after the  meek 2-2 home draw with Wolfsburglast Friday and an earlier league defeat by Hoffenheim.

In defence of Ancelotti, he was not helped particularly by the club's board. Transfer window recruitment did not make sense given they let winger Douglas Costa leave and replaced him with central midfielder James Rodriguez, who has ended up being shunted onto the wing. Robben and Ribery miss several matches a season due to their ageing bodies and cover is just not there. Corentin Tolisso was Bayern's record buy but has only one France cap.

Squad issues will persist for whoever replaces the Italian, whether it be caretaker Willy Sagnol until the end of the season or Jupp Heynckes or Ottmar Hitzfeld as short-term fixes until they can coax Julian Nagelsmann from Hoffenheim once the campaign is over. Or Thomas Tuchel if they change strategy completely.

If Robert Lewandowski breaks his leg, Bayern have no real cover upfront at all given utility man Thomas Müller had an awkward season in front of goal last term. That cannot be blamed on Ancelotti, even if there have been reports that he and Müller did not see eye-to-eye.

Indeed, Hoeness admitted there had been conflict in the dressing room.

"As coach you can't have your most prominent players as opponents," he told FFH radio station.
"I have learned a saying in my life: The enemy in your bed is the most dangerous. That is why we had to act."

The fact the 58-year-old had seemingly given up on speaking German to the press and had reverted to English suggests Ancelotti knew this might be his final season anyway. He has become very accustomed to leaving clubs after two seasons.

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