Rafael Benitez is widely expected to become the next head coach of Real Madrid, who confirmed the departure of Carlo Ancelotti on Monday.
Ancelotti was installed at the Bernabeu in the summer of 2013 when he left Paris Saint Germain to succeed Jose Mourinho, and cemented his name in their record books by delivering their first UEFA Champions League triumph since 2002 and the tenth in their history. The Italian also added a Copa del Rey to their honours list, having defeated Barcelona in the final.
It has been a different story this time round, though. The defence of their European crown came to an end when Juventus eliminated them at the semi-final stage, and city rivals Atletico were responsible for them relinquishing their grip on the domestic cup. As for La Liga, they finished the campaign two points behind champions Barca, following which Ancelotti was dismissed.
“Carlo is part of our history because he won the Decima for us,” said president Florentino Perez. “But here the demands are very high and we need to give Real Madrid a new push that allows us to reach the level that we want to be. It was a very difficult decision to make. The affection that the players and the fans have for Carlo is the same as the affection I myself have for him.”
Ancelotti will undergo surgery on his back this summer and has indicated he will then take a break from the game, which rules out a return to England where he has previously won the Premier League and FA Cup double with Chelsea. West Ham United were willing to offer him a return to the capital, whilst there have also been suggestions Liverpool and Manchester City could be interested.
Meanwhile, Real are widely expected to turn to Benitez as their next head coach. The Spaniard failed to make it as a player at the Bernabeu but coached their B team from 1993 to 1995, before going on to enjoy success as a head coach for Valencia, Liverpool, Chelsea and Napoli. He led the latter to the Copa Italia last season, but his contract with the Serie A side expires shortly.
Are Real Madrid making a huge mistake in sacking Carlo Ancelotti, and is Rafael Benitez really the best option to take them onto the next level?