When the plate went up, so did Carlo Ancelotti. They were nearing the end of Real Madrid’s first proper pre-season game at Ibrox, but not fast enough. Their new coach, who is also one of their old coaches, had seen enough, so he approached referee Willie Collum and asked if it would be better, rather than playing in the last minutes, just blow the whistle now. Collum honored Ancelotti’s request.
Which may be a reflection of the respect that exists for the man who was everywhere, and won everywhere too. It was definitely a reflection of the fact that it was only a friendly match – even if at times it felt like there was no such thing at Real Madrid. This time, though, may have been a little different: this time it didn’t go well – Real Madrid lost 2-1 at Rangers, an early finish may have prevented the worst result – and yet there was a kind of calm about everything.
Something of a kind… Carlo.
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Look, it’s not just the Madrid coach who means that the reaction to this match – Madrid’s summer as a whole, in fact – seemed extraordinarily low. After all, of course, the focus was elsewhere. There was interest in the Euro, and there was interest in Spain (even if the coverage focused on the club had not really disappeared, everything was filtered from the perspective of Madrid and Barcelona); There was a Copa America. And now there is an Olympic Games. Basically better to do it.
There was also no other great deal, not in Madrid. Not far anyway, not when it comes to the usual noise. Sure, there are rumors, names, some ordinary summer silliness; Sure, there’s something normal for a new manager about how hard it is to work now; But the volume doesn’t sound like it’s too high. Actual things have happened already – and pretty big things when you think about it – but even that doesn’t sound quite as seismic as it might be happening now. Not even Florentino Perez tapes, but that’s a different problem.
The departure of Sergio Ramos to Paris Saint-Germain was announced early, while on Tuesday it was announced the departure of Raphael Varane to Manchester United. David Alaba secured early and with minimal fuss. The other “signatures” are the players who are already there, and who are on their way back to the Bernabéu. And yes, it’s always the way it is: signatures are given in speech tags because, well, that’s what you do when you know what you’re saying isn’t really true. There was even one headline recently that announced: “Madrid signs for free.”
Real Madrid are also back in action just this week, at least when it comes to the players likely to make up their squad this season. In front of Rangers, of the 17 players who took to the field, only four appear to be important figures – Nacho, Martin Odegaard, Lucas Vazquez, Rodrygo – despite the admiration of Miguel Gutierrez. Even this is not certain. There were eight Castilla players on the team, and 16 outside: players who participated in the Euros (eight), the Copa America (four) and the Olympics (four more).
While all this is happening in Barcelona – o not It happens, if we are talking about officially staying Lionel Messi – not much will happen in Madrid. There were not many reinforcements: they played Rayo Vallecano and Fuenlabrada behind closed doors, Rangers at Ibrox, and now there is only one game left for Madrid in pre-season, against Milan, although they are trying to arrange another. And although he’s seen enough in Scotland, Ancelotti doesn’t mind all that.
Just as important, he knew that it would be so; It’s part of the reason why he’s here at all, even if a coincidence conversation brings him back, his return is unplanned by any of them. Partially also because He’s the guy here and things seem to be calming down, and his personality contributes to that.
Go back to his presentation press conference and if there is one recurring theme it is: I will get what I give. No demands, no public efforts for the players, no pressure. No complaints. number: Is this what I have to work with? No noise. Instead, there is a quiet rest. More than before, the last time he was here.
Before signing, Real Madrid made the situation clear to Ancelotti. While it’s not as dramatic as what happens 400 miles away at where their competitors are, the message was simple: things aren’t good. There isn’t really any money involved, and there won’t be any big deals. Unless, somehow, they can get the biggest. In fact, sales are more likely: they are needed. There are too many players – literally, more than they can fit in a first-class team – and there are certainly too many players who earn too much and give too little. There are children who need to look at, and veterans who need to recover. who – which It is your job.
It’s not perfect, no, but it’s something Ancelotti is happy to do. Not least because he wasn’t expecting to do it again. After Napoli and Everton, this is a return to where he is, the level he left behind. It’s a second chance he didn’t expect, a better one for her, and an acceptance by experience. When he last left, Ancelotti was not happy with the way club president Perez was treated, that’s right, but Madrid is Madrid. Even when Real Madrid isn’t quite what it used to be.
All that other stuff doesn’t matter much, or at least there’s not much point in letting it matter anymore. Ancelotti has a three-year contract that he knows he probably won’t complete, and that the sack is coming someday, but that doesn’t matter either. He knows that criticism will come and a lot of it will come from within but he just doesn’t care anymore. He’d like to sign, sure, who wouldn’t? A striker and another full back would come in handy, a midfield player with energy, but if he doesn’t get them, that’s fine. If some bargains can be done, that would be better, but it won’t. No sweat.
It is not a fire starter. Others, which is why they ended up being uninitiated. It was a comfortable and qualified choice. Imagine Conte losing to Ramos and Varane – it’s curious how calm the reaction to Madrid’s defensive heart was – then see what it really is. If Ramos and Varane thought Ancelotti would fight in the corner, and they did, they were wrong. And it’s not the same as saying he doesn’t want them.
Ancelotti could not have been unaware that Varane’s money probably won’t be reinvested – the money that could be generated is dedicated to facilitating the bid to sign Kylian Mbappe, Perez’s obsession – but that’s fine too. He might think that he could get something from Odegaard, but if that possibility was denied, there would be no crisis. He will try with Gareth Bale and Eden Hazard, but agrees that it may not work. He knows the limits of the youth team, but where he needs them, they will be used.
Calmly, he’s dealing with what he’s got, and the return of conditioning coach Antonio Bentos – another important question for Perez – befitting Ancelotti’s belief that football is more physical than ever. Varane, Luka Modric, Bale, Toni Kroos and Alaba started working with him at Valdebebas this week. Which was probably more important than what was happening in Scotland.
There are some things you can’t control, Ancelotti knows, and some things you can control. If you spend long enough, you will learn that sometimes you can be in control at the same time.