By Greg Lea.
When it was announced on Sunday that Pep Guardiola would leave his post as Bayern Munich manager at the end of the season, the Bundesliga champions wasted little time in uncovering his successor. As had been extensively reported in the weeks before, Carlo Ancelotti was unveiled as the next head coach at the Allianz Arena, with the Italian set to take the reins in June 2016.
It is an appointment that suits all parties: Bayern have acquired one of the most sought-after coaches in the game who has vast experience of working at big clubs and with superstar players, while Ancelotti has a terrific opportunity to add to his medal collection at another of Europe's elite outfits.
The major criticism of the 56-year-old is that he has not won the league as often as he should have. As well as Reggiana and a talented Parma side in his early career, Ancelotti has managed Juventus, Milan, Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid, teams that are expected to challenge for the title every year. In spite of that, he has finished top of the pile on only three occasions in 2003/04 at Milan, 2009/10 at Chelsea, 2012/13 at PSG a disappointing record for a man who has taken charge of some major clubs.
His employment at Bayern provides an excellent chance to improve on that return. Guardiola has won the Bundesliga in both of his full seasons so far, and looks well on course to claim a third this year. Thomas Tuchel's Borussia Dortmund have been largely excellent since August, but they still find themselves eight points behind the Bavarians at the summit. Bayern's financial might and depth of squad means they should remain on top in Germany for years to come.
Given their domestic dominance, then, the club's focus is now likely to be on adding more Champions Leagues to the trophy cabinet. Bayern have won Europe's primary club competition on five occasions, with only Real Madrid (10) and Milan (seven) triumphant more often; Guardiola will be desperate to claim the prize this term having not yet won it in Germany, but Ancelotti's record in the tournament suggests that, even if they fall short again this year, Bayern are likely to obtain their sixth crown at some point in the near future. The Italian and Bob Paisley are the only coaches to have lifted the European Cup three times, with Ancelotti tasting glory with Milan in 2003 and 2007 and Real Madrid in 2014.
Ancelotti could also be the perfect replacement for Guardiola in terms of character and approach. The latter is known to be an extremely intense operator, someone who studies the game tremendously deeply and who is always looking for solutions to problems. His personality can sometimes be difficult to handle, and there have been clashes with the club's hierarchy and staff throughout his time in Bavaria.
Ancelotti is more low-key and conciliatory, widely seen as a safe pair of hands. He will continue to encourage entertaining, attacking football though he is not an innovator in the same way that Guardiola is, so Bayern will likely stick to one or two formations and keep things a little simpler and promote and maintain a harmonious working environment. Some players may even relish the chance to play for a coach who is not as detailed and full-on as their current boss.
In short, both Ancelotti and Bayern Munich will be good for one another. Guardiola may be departing the Allianz Arena in five months' time, but the 25-time German champions will continue to be successful under Ancelotti, another of the planet's supercoaches.
Carlo Ancelotti and Bayern Munich a Perfect Pairing
By Greg Lea.