“When I knew of [Bayern’s] interest, I didn’t want to consider any other offer.” The words of Carlo Ancelotti back in December 2015, when he took over from a departing Pep Guardiola at the Allianz.
Now, that interest has expired. After only one full season in charge, Carlo Ancelotti is the latest European manager to be sacked. One of the continent’s most successful helmsmen has parted company with one of its most prestigious clubs.
What’s gone wrong in Munich?
So, where did it all go wrong? Ancelotti is a well respected manager, popular (usually) among players, and with a strong track record across Europe. He led Bayern Munich to the Bundesliga title in his first season in charge, and the German heavyweights now sit in third place in the league, only three points behind leaders Dortmund.
But there is a specter hanging over Munich; the specter of Bayern’s 3-0 Champions League defeat in Paris at the hands of Ancelotti’s former club PSG. Bayern simply do not lose 3-0, especially not in such embarrassingly public circumstances.
On the night, it was Dani Alves who struck first, finding the net after only two minutes. Half an hour later, Edinson Cavani put the Parisians 2-0 ahead, adding to Bayern’s misery, before Neymar finally put the game beyond doubt in the 63rd minute.
Knives out for Carlo Ancelotti
Bayern had been put to the sword, well and truly. This is part of football, this happens, but it doesn’t happen to Bayern, and definitely not in the Champions League.
By mid morning on Thursday, rumors were already flying. Norwegian journalist and former footballer Jan Aage Fjortoft tweeted about crisis talks at Bayern, and about an uncertain future for Carlo Ancelotti. It wasn’t long before those rumors graduated into facts.
Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Bayern’s chief executive, announced the news:
“The performance of our team since the start of the season did not meet the expectations we put on them,” he said. “The game in Paris clearly showed that we had to draw consequences. [Sporting director] Hasan Salihamidzic and I had an open and serious discussion with Carlo today and [we] informed him of our decision. I would like to thank Carlo for his cooperation and regret what has happened. Carlo is my friend and will remain so, but we had to make a professional decision for the benefit of FC Bayern.”
Discontent in the dressing room
Bayern’s mauling in Paris was embarrassing, but certainly does not tell the whole story. It is true that Bayern have started slowly, and have not assumed control of pole position in the Bundesliga as they would have liked to, but their league standing does not warrant a change of manager.
Bayern winger Arjen Robben fueled rumors of a dressing room rift when he declined to pledge his support for his manager following the PSG clash. When asked if he backed Ancelotti, Robben answered “I won’t answer this question,” instead stating that he hoped Bayern’s players would stick together “as a team”.
Following the sacking, Bayern Munich chairman Uli Hoeness seemed to confirm the rumors, describing how a five player revolt made Ancelotti’s position untenable.
“There were five players against Ancelotti,” Hoeness said. ”It was impossible to get out of that.”
Carlo Ancelotti, who won the Bundesliga and two Supercups with Bayern, will look back on his time in Munich with mixed emotions.