Madrid pursuit of Ancelotti heats up

Posted by Nicholas Rigg

A Scudetto, Coppa Italia, a couple of European Cups, a UEFA Super Cup, a FIFA Club World Cup, a Premier League title, the FA Cup and a Ligue 1 title. Not a bad list of major honours for any football manager. Not a bad one at all.

Carlo Ancelotti, the Paris Saint-Germain manager, has long been linked with replacing Jose Mourinho at Real Madrid and the desire for Los Blancos to make the Italian their new manager was made public this week when the French club, crowned champions on Sunday, revealed an approach from the Spanish capital.

-PSG reject 1st Madrid approach of Ancelotti

Madrid like Ancelotti. They want Ancelotti. They'd love to see the Italian complete his hat trick of Champions League triumphs with Madrid next season and they'd love him to add a Spanish league title to his list of honours, too.

Love Mourinho or hate him, there are not too many managers who can look good following in his footsteps. Ancelotti is one who is more than capable of doing so, in his own unique way, and Madrid realise that.

Their first approach has been rejected, with PSG keen to keep the former Chelsea and AC Milan manager in the French capital until his contract is up at the end of the 2013-14 campaign. "[Madrid] came and I discussed it with them," team president Nasser Al-Khelaifi said. "He's got a contract with us for one more year...for me, he's here next year. He's a fantastic guy and I'm sure he'll respect his contract."

Clearly, it's understandable that the French champions want to keep a man who, albeit with the club's new-found billions, guided them to a long-awaited league title and enjoyed decent progression on the biggest stage -- the Champions League.

Paris should also understand that, although Madrid will probably go away and keep quiet for a while, the likelihood is that they will be back in for a man who is top of their 'wanted list' before the Spanish season comes to a conclusion. You don't just say 'no' to Madrid and be done with it.

Mourinho's departure has long been predicted. Therefore, his successor has long been a topic of conversation. Ancelotti has been the favourite from the word go, and has been the favourite by some distance.

Madrid should do everything they can to capture the Italian for next season. Not only is his honours record impressive, but he has the character to handle the big players in the Blancos dressing room, too, something that will be crucial given the antics this season. Maybe 'handling' them is the wrong term -- his man-management skills are well set for the Bernabeu.

Of course, many say the Madrid job is a poisoned chalice; a job different to anywhere else in the world. The pressure and the expectancy sky-high. Jose Mourinho, the 'Special One', is an apt case in point. The Bernabeu may not have exactly chewed Mourinho up and spat him out, but it won't be far off, and that's for a manager who has stayed longer than most of his recent predecessors.

Ancelotti's temperament is one that could suit the club, and could come at just the right time. Infighting, between players and staff, has torn Madrid's season apart. That needs to be fixed, and Ancelotti can be the man to fix it.

He has the honours to back it up, and the honours in different countries, too. Not only has he excelled in Italy, but he's excelled in the much different environment of the Premier League, and he's excelled in France -- just for good measure.

Many managers may have come between Mourinho and the Italian at Chelsea, but Ancelotti proved he could be just as special as the Portuguese at Stamford Bridge, winning the double before being prematurely booted out, in a way only Chelsea can.

Ancelotti, like Mourinho, also has the experience of winning the Champions League firmly on his side. Not just once, but twice. Madrid is desperate for La Decima. Mourinho pushed Los Blancos further in the competition than recent seasons (three straight semifinals) and Madrid will hope Ancelotti, if indeed he is the man to come in, can take them to the next step.

Paris may have rejected Madrid's initial approach for their manager, but expect this to be just the first story covering Los Blancos' push for the Italian's services.

Although far from a shock, the announcement of Madrid's pursuit of Ancelotti has not come at the best of times, with the Copa del Rey final against Atletico Madrid to come. Friday night's derby clash is expected to be Mourinho's last meaningful match as Merengues boss, so expect new manager talk to heat up next week.

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