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Ancelotti a safe pair of hands as Bayern Munich wait for Klopp

Having been forced to accept they will lose the best coach in the world when Pep Guardiola leaves at the end of the season, Bayern Munich have moved quickly to secure the services of a safe pair of hands in Carlo Ancelotti.

Unable to match the headline-grabbing impact they made by snaring post-sabbatical Pep in 2013, for the administrators and decision-makers at the Allianz Arena and Sabener Strasse, Ancelotti represents the most likely available means of extending their dominance of German domestic football, while continuing to reach the latter stages of the Champions League with metronomic reliability.

Indeed, having Guardiola in charge has proved to be no guarantee of continental glory for Bayern. Twice a European Cup-winning coach at Barcelona, the 44-year-old has fallen at the semi-final stage in each of his first two seasons in charge and now has just one more chance to claim UEFA’s top club prize in Bavaria before bowing out.

Ironically, Ancelotti captured the Champions League more by accident than design in 2013-14, securing La Decima for Real Madrid in the first of his two seasons in charge, despite his real priority being to clean up the toxic mess left behind at the Santiago Bernabeu by Jose Mourinho. 

And if it is European success they crave, Bayern now have a specialist in the form of the former Italy international.

Ancelotti, who on Sunday was confirmed as Guardiola’s successor on a three-year deal starting at the end of this season, has won the Champions League three times as a coach, twice with AC Milan and once at Madrid, as well as all three subsequent UEFA Super Cups. 

There has been no shortage of domestic prizes either. The 56-year-old counts Serie A, the Coppa Italia, the Premier League, the FA Cup, Ligue 1 and the Copa del Rey among major honours earned from the touchline, with La Liga the only serious prize to elude him.

Other than a barren two-year spell with Juventus between 1999 and 2001, Ancelotti has never failed to deliver. 

Some may question his domestic title-winning credentials, given he secured the Scudetto just once at Milan between 2001 and 2009, but he will never have a better opportunity to taste sustained league success than with the present Bayern squad.

The Bavarians, on course for their fourth consecutive title triumph, have an unprecedented stranglehold on the Bundesliga, which they lead by eight points from Borussia Dortmund.

It will take a remarkable collapse in form, or a miraculous performance from a rival team, to prevent that streak from continuing.

In recent decades Bayern have only jeopardised what often appears their God-given right to dominate German football by making questionable coaching appointments. 

Jurgen Klinsmann proved a major failure in the dugout and, while Felix Magath and Louis van Gaal delivered success, they ultimately outstayed their welcome, making enemies of players and members of staff alike.

Even Guardiola was unable to avoid alienating some of his staff, club doctor Hans-Wilhelm Muller-Wohlfahrt resigning his position in April after feeling his medical team had been blamed for a Champions League loss to Porto.

There will no be danger of that with Ancelotti, who is a shrewd diplomat and has proved capable of thriving under far more challenging regimes at Roman Abramovich’s Chelsea, the Madrid of Florentino Perez and Silvio Berlusconi’s Milan.

In that sense it is a match made in managerial heaven. The Uli Hoeness debacle aside, super-club Bayern pride themselves on maintaining the highest standards of commercial and administrative best-practice.

Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and his fellow board members will not cause trouble for Ancelotti and in turn the new coach can be trusted to ensure it is business as usual on the pitch. 

He does not have the wow factor of coaching genius Guardiola, but then few, if any, do. Ancelotti is the right man at the right time and Bayern are highly unlikely to regret appointing him. 

And, when his three-year contract expires in 2019, Jurgen Klopp may be ready to return home from what is sure to have been a successful spell in Liverpool. No prizes for guessing who will be first in line to sign him up.

Sun 20 Dec, 2015
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