Ancelotti, definitely better dressed than Scolari

Earlier this week, Squizz told the It’s Called Football podcast that I said Carlo Ancelotti was simply “Phil Scolari in a better suit.”

Yes, I did say that, but like a lot of things I say, it was mainly to get a rise out of the this site’s other two bloggers. (Besides, I don’t recall Scolari ever wearing a suit.)

The remark was an offhand one in response to a question about Chelsea’s loss last weekend to Aston Villa that featured two goals conceded off set pieces. Maybe it’s because I just watched Chelsea cream an admittedly disastrous Athletico Madrid side 4-0, but I think it’s still fair to poke at the Ancelotti is the second coming of Scolari talk.

It’s natural that both neutrals and Chelsea supporters such as myself would see parallels between the two situations. The beginning of Scolari’s end at Chelsea also began with a slow creep of sloppy defending following a flying start to the season.

But while Scolari’s biggest liability was his astonishing inflexibility with tactics, Ancelotti has already nailed down two formations that get results, as evidenced today against Athletico.

Maybe the fact Scolari couldn’t figure out a way to break down Greece in the Euro 2004 final despite playing in front of a home crowd with Portugal should have raised some eyebrows among those at Chelsea doing due diligence on his hiring.

Yes, he bundled the Portuguese into the semis in Germany in 2006, but it wasn’t pretty to watch. And then it all imploded at Euro 2008 when he spent more time negotiating his contract with Roman Abramovich than coaching Portugal.

Scolari has a World Cup, but before Chelsea he had never coached a European club, and was well into a series of declining returns at the international level. He couldn’t speak English when he arrived in England, but more importantly, he stopped trying to learn. By the end at Chelsea you could see in his eyes that he’d decided this whole Premier League racket wasn’t even worth the millions he was making. I always suspected he was in it for the money, and his subsequent decision to go manage in the Uzbek league confirms that for me.

In contrast, Ancelotti has two European Cups – and in 99 out of 100 parallel universes would have three. He doesn’t speak English, but he’s improving and as possible as it is to get a sense of a man through a television screen from across the ocean, it looks to me like he still wants to prove something.

As for all the recent goals off set pieces? Almost all of Chelsea’s starters were off on international duty just before, and perhaps it affected their concentration? Maybe it’s man management issues and communicating in a second language, but former players at Milan cite man management as Ancelotti’s strength, and it’s not like butchered English is affecting Fabio Capello on the job.

Maybe it’s preparation. Ancelotti’s eight years at Milan yielded just one Scudetto. Whether or not there is such thing as a “cup coach” is up for debate, but certain managers seem better at winning leagues – Capello, Ferguson, Mourinho – while others excel in tournaments – Ancelotti, Benitez.

And if Ancelotti is indeed more adept at the latter, Chelsea supporters may have to reconcile themselves with frustrating lapses of concentration that lose the Premiership in order for Abramovich to realize his dream of winning the Champions League.

ps> Squizz also told Canadian Terrace Talk this week that I believe “all British players are crap.” But I don’t believe they are crap. I just believe that for about 50 years now British footballers haven’t been as good as Spanish, Italian or South American ones.


2 Responses to “Ancelotti, definitely better dressed than Scolari”

  1. Uh oh, you actually listen to those podcasts?

    You’re definitely not going to like my characterization of your pre-match warmup ritual on yesterday’s ICF Daily.

    • It wasn’t flattering, but I’m not sure it’s worse than actually singing the Final Countdown live on the Internet.

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