Carlo Ancelotti and his failure at Juventus

Carlo Ancelotti is one of the most successful football managers of all time, having won in the five top leagues in Europe, and very few coaches can boast of having led so many of the game's greatest-ever players. In that regard, every single successful individual has an origin and a story to tell, and while Ancelotti, as a footballer, always played in great teams, he also had to go through a learning curve as a manager.

Carlo Ancelotti
A lot of people remember Ancelotti's time at AC Milan, Chelsea, or his first at Real Madrid, but very few seem to recall his time at Juventus, and there is a reason for that: this was arguably the most difficult period in his career. Struggling with tactics, failing to get along with some key players, and a lack of connection with the supporters were some of the main reasons that led to his failure at Juve.

The context for his arrival

Before he arrived at Juve, Ancelotti had been coaching Parma from 1996 to 1998, with the first season being very successful as they finished second in Serie A and qualified to the UEFA Champions League. However, the second season was a lot less successful as the club only qualified to the UEFA Cup, now known as the UEFA Europa League, and Ancelotti was sacked afterward.

While it seemed that Ancelotti was heading to Turkey to sign for Fenerbahce, he was approached by the people of Juventus, as he pointed out back in 2015:

"Luciano Moggi (Juventus general manager) called me the day before my three-day trip to Turkey to meet Fenerbahçe. 'Before you commit to anything, call me. We'll meet when you return,' he told me. I thought you wanted to ask me about a footballer. As soon as I evaded the Turkish team's marking, I called him and we had a secret meeting."

"I followed a car to the house of Antonio Giraudo (delegate administrator), Moggi and Antonio Bettega (vice president) were also there, The Triad in the flesh. "Do you want to manage Juve?" they asked me. "You don't have Lippi? He is the best," I responded. "He is not happy here and we have thought about you." In a few hours we signed the contract, which they wrote by hand with a pen in 23 lines on a piece of paper."

His time at Juventus

Ancelotti became Juventus' manager in February of 1999, amidst a very complicated season for the club, despite the insane amount of quality that they had in the squad. And while the Italian manager had proven at Parma that he could handle some very talented players, he also had to deal with Juventus' most extreme supporters, who weren't accepting of who he was.

"In my first week in Turin, I was driving to the office and in the middle of Piazza Crimea there was an obelisk where someone spray painted. "A pig can't coach." Moggi was waiting for me with the Juve hooligans. "You have to make peace with Ancelotti," he told them."

"I played in the eighties with Roma and our rival was Juve. When I played for Milan, our main enemy was Juve. Then I coached Parma and our rival for the Scudetto was Juve... They could only see me as an enemy. Period. It is something that could not change and that did not change. Because it was always the same. 'A pig can't coach.' "An intolerable lack of respect for pigs..."

Smiling Zinedine Zidane
Zinedine Zidane - one of the players in Ancelotti's Juventus
Most of his tenure was defined by not fully developing a tactical setup that could work while also trying to cater too much to the players at his disposal. Back when he was coaching at Parma, he rejected the possibility of signing Roberto Baggio, one of the best Italian attacking players, because he wouldn't fit in his 4-4-2 system. Now he was rejecting his 4-4-2 system in order to accommodate Zinedine Zidane, which led to a lot of uneven results.

Even a young Zinedine Zidane was lost in the mix, often having to play as a left wing-back because Ancelotti didn't see his potential as a forward, which sounds like total insanity these days. And while he started his first full season with Juve in a strong manner, Ancelotti and his team would end up losing the 1999/2000 Serie A title to Lazio after the former had a five-point lead near the final stages of the run, which drew a lot of criticism.

This was also exemplified yet again the following season when they went trophyless once again and lost the Serie A title to the other Rome club, AS Roma. The Juve board were not happy at all with these performances and sacked Ancelotti at halftime of the final game of the season against Atalanta... and even went as far as announcing it right there.

The aftermath

Carlo Ancelotti would be hired by AC Milan the following season and the rest of history: not only did he win every single trophy with Milan but he also went on to become one of the most successful football coaches of all time. And while one may think that Juve fans will be envious of that, the truth of the matter is that they never warmed up to Ancelotti to begin with. They always viewed him as an enemy, as he said.

However, Ancelotti has gone on record saying that this experience was very important for him, and it makes sense because it taught him a lot regarding coaching, which proved to be quite helpful in his career moving forward.
Kelvin Tingling knows most things about football and also likes to write about it. Kelvin lives in Buenos Aires and his favorite team is Boca Juniors.