Mr Nice Guy Ancelotti deserves his revenge
Ancelotti deserves revenge after brutal treatment at Madrid
|BAYERN MUNICH||REAL MADRID|
Carlo Ancelotti could be forgiven for punching a voodoo doll in a Real Madrid jersey every night.
If he spent his evenings in a cauldron of rage, foaming at the very thought of his Champions League opponents, no one would hold it against him.
But that's not his way.
When his Bayern Munich side host the men who stabbed him in the back tomorrow morning (Singapore time), Ancelotti will shake hands and play nice.
But this is the one time when a nice guy should finish first.
Indeed, he should wallow in the revenge because he was treated appallingly at Real.
In truth, most coaches are. Their bloodied heads all roll from the Bernabeu dugout eventually as president Florentino Perez gleefully wipes the blade clean.
But Ancelotti was and remains different.
His perceived weakness in the eyes of myopic club presidents is very much a positive within an adoring dressing room.
He makes love not war across Europe's leading battlegrounds, proving that being a pacifist doesn't undermine one's coaching pedigree.
He curtailed the clique culture at both Real Madrid and Chelsea, collected trophies and was still rewarded with the sack in both instances.
Despite both clubs going on to further success, there's an argument that Chelsea are only now fully returning to the united, committed camp nurtured by Ancelotti.
Real Madrid certainly enjoyed a period of tranquillity under the avuncular Italian that Zinedine Zidane still seeks to replicate.
And yet, Perez sacked Ancelotti a year and a day after he won the coveted Decima - a 10th Champions League trophy.
He left the club with a 74.79 per cent win ratio - the second-best of any Real coach.
The club soon regretted the decision when the bumbling Rafa Benitez arrived, clearly overawed and out of his depth.
Chelsea displayed even greater tactlessness. Roman Abramovich fired Ancelotti in a corridor at Goodison Park in 2011. His replacement was the clownish Andre Villas-Boas.
The Portuguese pretender lasted nine months.
Ancelotti's genial style can be misinterpreted as a character flaw, a soft centre at clubs demanding granite-like strength.
In press conferences, he's certainly among the least imposing coaches to interview, giving the false impression that elite management is all a bit of lark.
But Ancelotti's unifying charm has always been his most deceptive strength.
When his Real contract was terminated, Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema, James Rodriguez, Luka Modric, Toni Kroos, Marcelo, Dani Carvajal and Sergio Ramos all praised him on social media.
It was a risky career move, considering how the omnipotent Perez struggles with public criticism.
But the "BBC" triumvirate of Ronaldo, Bale and Benzema were never better than they were under Ancelotti.
Zidane, a popular coach himself, hasn't quite fostered the same camaraderie or consistency, with all three forwards struggling at different times this season.
The injury-prone Bale has scored nine times in all competitions. Ronaldo's tally of 19 La Liga goals ranks as his worst domestic tally since 2010.
While Benzema is proving equally erratic in domestic fixtures, he remains Real's top scorer in the Champions League with just five goals.
Bale even reminisced about Ancelotti's tenure at Madrid this week, praising the Italian's populist approach, a point the 57-year-old emphasised with a kiss.
His peck on Franck Ribery's cheek during Bayern's 4-1 demolition of Borussia Dortmund on Sunday morning underlined the club's irrepressible team spirit.
Ancelotti is not only proving that Bayern are a club for old men, he's also pulling off a "Robbery" by reuniting Ribery and Arjen Robben.
There are 67 years between them and the pair share as many goals as they do arguments, but Ancelotti has established a detente among his volatile wingers.
Even the Treble-winning Jupp Heynckes couldn't stop them during a half-time fight in the 2012 Champions League semi-final, which left Robben with a cut cheek and Ribery isolated.
But the Italian has maintained a fragile peace among the ageing mavericks, prolonging the Indian summer of both men.
He reigns through sly diplomacy, rather than chest-beating histrionics and deserves his moment against his former paymasters.
For the mild-mannered Ancelotti, revenge is a dish best served quietly.
But it should taste pretty damn good nonetheless.