Managing a professional football team is not a job for the faint-hearted. While the career is lucrative and brings with it a lot of fame, it does have its own set of frailties.
Managers are the first targets of both the media and the management in the face of defeat. Yet, they are the last ones to be praised when the team performs well.
From maintaining the dressing room atmosphere behind the scenes to running the show on the sidelines with critical decisions, a manager’s job has no dearth of stress. Needless to say, it is difficult to find a candidate who can seamlessly hold the fort on all fronts.
To recognise the importance of coaches in the modern game, UEFA awards an annual prize to the best men’s team coach. The Federation have released a list of three candidates to win the coveted award for the 2021-22 season- Jurgen Klopp, Carlo Ancelotti and Pep Guardiola.
Madrid Universal brings to you a brief analysis of each candidate’s exploits last season making a case for Carlo Ancelotti.
1. Pep Guardiola
Through his spells in Spain, Germany and now England, Pep Guardiola has revolutionised the way football is seen globally. All of his teams have two commonalities: champaigne football and silverware.
Since his arrival at Etihad, the disciple of Johan Cruyff has turned Manchester City into a winning machine. He has won the Premier League four times in the last five years in addition to several domestic cups.
At the beginning of the 2021-22 season, it seemed like the men in Blue were going to run away with the league title. However, a late resurgence from Liverpool combined with a couple of slip-ups from the leaders saw the race boil down to the final matchday.
On the final matchday, Guardiola’s men notched up an unbelievable comeback from 2-0 down in a must-win situation to win the tie and seal the Premier League title.
The results on other fronts, however, were not as impressive. The Manchester-based club were eliminated in the fourth round of the EFL Cup and lost to Liverpool in the semifinal of the FA Cup. Moreover, they came up short against Liverpool in the final of the FA Community Shield too.
The biggest disappointment came in the UEFA Champions League. Manchester City won the first leg at home with a scoreline of 4-3 and extended their lead to two goals early in the second leg.
Yet, the men in blue conceded two goals after the conclusion of regulation time and lost the tie to a Karim Benzema penalty in the 95th minute.
2. Jurgen Klopp
The German manager has been pivotal in Liverpool’s rebuild in recent years and made the Merseyside team into one of the most formidable sides in world football.
However, the 2021-22 season will not go down as one of Klopp’s memorable seasons. He was just two wins away from securing a historic quadruple haul for his side but ultimately fell short in the competitions that matter the most.
The UEFA Champions League final saw Liverpool press and dominate Real Madrid for most of the game. The English side created chance after chance but failed to put them away. Ultimately, Los Blancos‘ only shot on target saw Real Madrid take the lead and win the title.
In the Premier League too, his side came up painfully short. Heading into the final matchday, Liverpool needed Manchester City to drop points to have any chance of winning the title. However, Guardiola’s side pulled off an amazing comeback win to crash Klopp’s hopes.
The German manager finished the season with two trophies to his name, the FA Cup and the EFL Cup. The question is: are domestic cups enough to warrant the award?
3. Carlo Ancelotti
Real Madrid’s manager was, quite comfortably, the most successful of the three nominees last season.
At the beginning of the season, Los Blancos were thought to be a team in transition that could not compete on multiple fronts. Yet, the manager instilled belief and determination into the side and almost won it all.
Real Madrid won La Liga by a whopping 13-point margin under his guidance. Heading into the final part of the season, it was almost a no-contest domestically.
While they were knocked out of the Copa del Rey prematurely in the quarterfinals, the Madrid-based club won the Supercopa de Espana beating Barcelona and Athletic Club in the process.
However, the manager’s biggest success came in the UEFA Champions League. His team did not just win the competition but pulled off a series of unbelievable comebacks to do so. Manchester City, Liverpool and PSG are just some of the world-class sides the club overcame en route to the UCL title.
Every time it appeared that Real Madrid would go down, they fought until the final second and found a way back. The development of such a champion mentality should be credited to Ancelotti, who is well-known for bringing the best out of his players and instilling non-restrictive football.
While all three managers had their fair share of success last season, it would appear that Ancelotti is the clear favourite to walk away with the title of ‘The Best Coach’ for 2021-22.
In recent years, the award has been exclusively awarded to the manager of the Champions League winning team. Thomas Tuchel and Hansi Flick won the award in 2020-21 and 2019-20, respectively for guiding their teams to the pinnacle of European football.
Moreover, it would only be fair to award Ancelotti the prize because it was his team that knocked out both Manchester City and Liverpool from the prestigious competition.
Real Madrid 1-0 Sevilla: Player Ratings
Following Barcelona’s convincing 4-0 win against Getafe yesterday, the onus was on Real Madrid to reinstate the eight-point gap between the sides as they hosted Sevilla at the Santiago Bernabeu today.
Lucas Vazquez opened the scoring for los blancos after ten minutes, but the goal was controversially disallowed for a foul on Youssef En-Nesyri in the build-up.
Madrid found it difficult to unlock Sevilla’s defence after that, with the first-half ending 0-0 after just one shot on target from both teams combined.
Madrid started the second 45 with more intent, creating some better scoring opportunities, but were left without success until an unbelievable effort from Luka Modric scathed the post and went in.
Sergio Ramos put in a wonderful performance on his return to the Santiago Bernabeu for Sevilla, but it was not enough as Madrid escaped with all three points and an eight-point lead on top of the table.
Andriy Lunin: 8
Was not called into action in the first-half, and was pretty much faultless in possession. But made an incredible save off Romero’s effort in the second half and was extremely proactive collecting crosses, too. Game-changing.
Lucas Vazquez: 7
Did a good job overlapping and was unlucky that his goal was disallowed. Did well to deal with Romero and Ocampos defensively.
Antonio Rudiger: 6.5
Rudiger was lucky that Romero and En-Nesyri did not convert their efforts from close range, as he often left space in behind. Went up to attack with the score at 0-0, too, but came back fruitless.
Was substituted off after 75 minutes after an mostly average display. Again, lucky that he was not punished for the space he left behind.
Ferland Mendy: 7
A few decent moves for Mendy today, but for the most part, his inability to overlap properly gave Vinicius too much to do.
Federico Valverde: 8
By far the most active midfielder today, Valverde was everywhere. Ran the show for Madrid, both in possession and stopping counter attacks before they even started. Missed the easiest chance of the game, though.
Aurelien Tchouameni: 6.5
Did his job as the 6 well, kept the game ticking and kept finding the spare man in midfield. Moved back to the defence eventually, and came away with a clean sheet.
Toni Kroos: 7
With Madrid struggling to break through Sevilla’s defence, Kroos was tasked with a lot of deep progression. Created some tame chances here and there, but failed to find properly find a man through.
Brahim Diaz: 7.5
Kept Kike Salas and Ocampos on their toes, making some tremendous solo runs from deep, but was often left without support. Created a brilliant chance for Valverde, that was scuffed.
Did not take many risks in possesion, but was crucial in Vinicius and Brahim finding space on the wing by offering support.
Vinicius Jr: 7.5
With the Sevilla defence looking very organised, the onus was on Vinicius to create something out of nothing. He attempted a few different things, including flicking the ball over players and attempting shots from distance, but all unsuccessful.
Has to be credited for the effort, though, especially with the rest of the team lacking.
Luka Modric: 8.5
Super-sub Luka Modric coming in clutch for Madrid today with his wonder goal from outside the box. Was also brilliant in possession, increasing the tempo of the game.