‘Eat – Sleep – Sack – Repeat’ – according to a popular meme, Real Madrid President Florentino Perez’s life cycle revolves around this mantra. Perez has been the president of one of the most prestigious clubs in the world for twelve years (in two spans) and he sacked as many as nine managers in that period, his latest victim being Carlo Ancelotti.
After only two seasons in Santiago Bernabeu, Ancelotti had to leave the club after failing to win a single trophy in 2014/15, other than UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup which are not so coveted trophies after all. However, although this season has been disastrous in terms of awards and accolades, does that necessarily mean Ancelotti did a poor job worth of nothing less than sacking? Well, let us look at the numbers.
Real Madrid started the 2014/15 La Liga season rather slowly with defeats to Atlético Madrid and Real Sociedad but then, they went on a record breaking winning streak, which included wins against arch-rivals Barcelona and Liverpool. In the process, they surpassed the previous Spanish record of 18 successive wins set by Frank Rijkaard’s Barcelona in 2005/06. Eventually, their winning streak came to a halt after 22 matches, when they lost to Valencia in their opening game of 2015. And soon, the club suffered a few setbacks, both on and off the field. A few injuries, feud among some important players and couple of surprise losses took the toll.
In the end, the club failed to retain the Champions League (losing 3-2 on aggregate against Juventus in the semi-finals) and also the Copa del Rey (4-2 aggregate loss to city rivals Atletico Madrid). Further disappointment was on the cards as Ancelotti could not successfully land the league title (finishing two points and a place behind champions Barcelona) too. But again, was it too bad a season to sack the manager?
Till date, there have been 36 full-time managers in Real Madrid and only one (I repeat, Only One!) of them has a better record than Carlo Ancelotti. Before 1990, only two managers recorded a win percentage of nearly 70 – Luis Carniglia (June 1957 to February 1959, 70.59%) and Manuel Fleitas (July 1959 to April 1960, 69.70%). Now, if we restrict ourselves to the last two decades, there have been more than twenty managers. Below is a list of the top five in terms of winning percentage.
Jun 2009 to May 2010
Jun 2013 to May 2015
May 2010 to Jun 2013
Mar 1991 to Jan 1992
Dec 2008 to Jun 2009
Clearly, Ancelotti is the second best manager Real Madrid ever had. Not only he maintained an astounding win percentage, but under his reign, Real Madrid won UEFA Champions League (after more than ten years) and Copa Del Rey last season. Even if we consider only this season, Madrid won 43 games out of 59, which means a 72.88% win percentage, still better than his predecessors (other than Pellegrini). So, the number of trophies won is not a good way to judge, isn’t it?
No wonder that, even after winning almost nothing this season, the fans are not at all happy with this decision. Evidently, Carlo Ancelotti did not have a bad record to get sacked but this is Florentino Perez and Real Madrid, where 26 coaches took charge of the team (temporarily or permanently) in the last 25 years and only four managers got to stay two or more years at a stretch.
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