Quiet generally is associated with weakness. But there is power and authority in being calm and measured, in building trust and making decisions coolly, in using influence and persuasion and in being professional in your approach. When you watch Vito Corleone in the Godfather, do you see a weak, quiet man or do you see a calm, powerful man in charge of his situation? This is what makes Carlo Ancelotti, the Godfather inspired Italian, a successful trophy winning, team building coach. He has managed world class teams like Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Paris Saint Germain, AC Milan, Juventus & Chelsea across the globe – in England, Spain, Italy, Paris & Germany. He’s the record 3 time Champions League winning coach (now matched by Zidane). This book written by Carlo along with Chris Brady & Mike Ford has something for Football lovers as well as management enthusiasts. Insights from incidents are articulated brilliantly. Another fantastic part is that some of the finest people from Football like Ronaldo, Zlatan & Beckham have taken time out to share their thoughts on working with Carlo, which of course, we’ll cover in this session. So here it goes –

  1. Every business has at its heart the delivery of the product to the consumer. In football that product is on the pitch. What happens there drives the 3 basic revenue streams of the business: match day (ticket sales), commercial (sales and sponsorship) and broadcasting (which dominates the turnover of most of the elite European football leagues). Ultimately the manager is judged on delivering success. Success at big clubs means trophies; at smaller clubs it could mean avoiding relegation or simply staying in business
  1. In 2016, the avg tenure of a FTSE 100 CEO is 5.18 years, for EPL managers, it’s just 2.36 years (if you exclude Arsene Wenger from this equation, the avg is just 1.7 years). Similarly, Italian Serie A – 1.31 years, Spain’s La Liga 1.34 years. This brings us to an important concept of the leadership Arc
  2. Leadership arc –
    1. Courtship, when club identifies you and tries to acquire your services
    2. Then comes honeymoon period, when everyone – the players, the staff & the fans – give you time to establish yourself, but which unfortunately, as always in life, never lasts long
    3. Next comes success and stability, should you be able to achieve it – for a top club this means trophies, but success is measure differently further down the league. Eventually, this stability plateaus and then the problems begin: the cracks in the relationship
    4. Finally, comes the breakup – the inevitable parting of ways
  3. At Madrid, my leadership arc was very tight, very compressed about 2 years. I have had a much shallower arc too, 8 years at Milan.
  1. I’m a strong believer in acquiring your qualifications before starting out on a career, but sometimes it’s not possible. As he started his coaching career with Reggiana and spent a good amount of his first year without a licence (hired an assistant who had one).
  2. The problem is that when you become a manager after finishing a playing career so recently, you think that you know everything. In reality, you know nothing. The important thing to get right is to have a good relationship with the players but also be the boss at the same time
  3. If the players have a lot of respect for you, you have to speak for them and with them. They expect it to be perfect because you’re the boss, but it is new to you. I knew my own inadequacies, my own vulnerabilities, and I could not believe that others could not see that – that’s the first time manager feeling!
  1. Juventus was tough for me because, after working at a club like Parma, which was a family, juventus was like working at a company. Going to the training ground was like going to work at a factory. Aside from the cultural shift, there was another reason why it was difficult for me in this job: the Juventus supporters hated me. Why? Because I was a Roma player, a Milan player. Most of the time I would fin them outside the training ground, waiting to bait me. It’s true – in Italy this kind of thing happens. This is the power of the fans we talked about in our video about Gerrard as well. Check it out!
  2. On the first day at the club, the players and the staff show me respect for what I’ve achieved, as a player and as a manager. After that, they’re looking, watching you everyday: what are you doing? How easy is your behaviour? Are you serious, are you professional? These are the questions going through the player’s minds, and it is like sitting in an exam everyday. It’s all about what you can do for them, because talented people are very selfish. They want their talent to be nurtured. To the players, it’s all about helping them get better, and if I can’t then I’m no use to them.
  1. Abbiati broke his rib and faced a spell out of the side. Dida stepped up in his absence, so that when Abbiati returned from injury I had to tell him that Dida had done well and would continue to play at number one. This is the way at big clubs. You have to wait for your chance and then take it. And, when you do take it, you have to know you will always be challenged. There is no room for complacency. I’d like to add to this from a personal perspective. If you’ve performed & delivered consistently at the top level & still you don’t feature in the playing XI, time to find a different club!
  2. I knew from my time in Milan how important it was for the players to have meals together to help form a tighter unit. I wanted to bring the family enviro knew so well from Milan to Paris, and meal times are an important part of family life. Without an empathy with the culture success can still be achieved, but it can also be fleeting, hard to sustain
  3. In England, there is much more aggression and less obsession with possession. In Spain, there is more emphasis on the possession of the ball. They like to play football in a certain way and all the teams broadly like to follow that approach. If I had to go to war, I would go with the English, not with the Italians or the French. It is absolutely essential to understand this culture
  4. One of the most important relationships at a football club- that between the manager and his support staff. This is where the second aspect of the family comes in, with me and my trusted lieutenants. The support staff must be there to listen, share ideas, for support and as part of a united front as a management team. Trust between us should be implicit – and loyalty is paramount. It is non negotiable. It is people who warrant our loyalty – not organisations. With organisations, it’s always just business
  5. The attitude is key, even if you’re winning. You cannot always control the result, but you can control your attitude. On some days you might be able to have a bad attitude and win, or a good attitude and lose, but you’re going to win more games with the better attitude. There is a randomness in football, in life, which you cannot eliminate from any analysis of the game
  1. All top talent wants to be told the direction they are heading but they want to be active in driving the vehicle that gets everyone there
  2. Gareth Bale issue – sometimes players who arrive at the top level because of particular skills believe that they want to do things differently, they want to experiment to try to be better. They forget what enabled them to reach the top level in the first place. A manager has to work with the player to try to get him
  1. Fortune magazine’s cover story for 21 June 1999 read ‘why CEOs fail’. The simple answer was: by not getting things done. The article argues that leaders of major businesses were overly focused on ‘strategy, missions and visions’ and we’re paying insufficient attention to results
  2. Making decisions is an inevitable part of being a leader in any industry. I am convinced that ‘getting things done’ in a job is integrally linked to the speed and focus with which decisions are made
  3. Getting decisions right or wrong seems an easy thing to quantify, but I don’t believe it to be so. When the results of my decision prove not to be good, does that mean it was the wrong decision? No. It only means that it turned out to be wrong. When the decision is made, it’s the right decision at that time with the available information. It is my guiding notion that it is simply rational to concentrate only on those things you can affect. Those that are out of your control must be rejected for consideration
  4. Leaders can only lead if followers believe in them. It doesn’t matter why they believe in them. It could be their personality, like Zlatan or Ramos or Terry, or it could be their example, like Ronaldo. It can be both. This is how I like to think of leaders – personality or technical
  5. Sometimes it’s the players who have to be the leaders, not the manager, and Silva and Ibrahimovic immediately became the leaders in the dressing room. (Paris)
  1. They hire me to be kind and calm with the players and then at the first sign of trouble along the way that’s the very characteristic they (owners) point to as the problem. I know that if I’m winning then it’s because I’m calm; equally, if I’m losing it is because I’m calm. How can it be both? He states this as the major reason for worsening relationships with owners and his sacking
  2. I’ve learned that getting sacked – and getting recruited, for that matter – is rarely just about you. It is always about the person hiring or firing you. Do your job to the best of your ability and let others judge you because they will anyway
    1. Recruitment- in England, coach is actively involved but in Italy and Spain it is the general director or the CEO that hires. I give my inputs but I “manage” with the team given to me. That’s why I’m called the manager. This is because the tenure of the manager is way less to ensure the right continuity and grooming of talent
    2. Onboarding – the job of the manager is to integrate the players who have been recruited into the fabric of the team. Culture and language and how to behave outside the club are an integral part of this. A lot of management happens via leaders in the dressing room to help younger players. This is the quiet way
    3. Development- development needs gradually change as the player grows. For the 18 year old Ronaldo at Manchester United, sir Alex would have been concerned with his technique where it was applied towards the needs of the team. But at Madrid, when he was already at top, it had become a case of working out how we could best get the team to extract the most value from his talent
    4. Succession – in business, one of the things that great leaders try to do well is managing the exit of underperforming or redundant staff, handling it with care and sympathy. This is not always true in football, where the ruthlessness of management is often the focus of considerable criticism.
  1. Maybe he’s not so diplomatic, but he’s a winner. The biggest problem was that even in the training sessions, he didn’t want to lose anything -ever. He’s always fighting. Always 100%. He can only be one way – direct. If he doesn’t like something, he’s going to tell you. Subtlety is not Ibra’s strongest suit. Example – one day on the training ground, Ibra thought that one of the young players had not given his best effort to the session. At the end of training Ibra called this guy over and said, “Now, you have to go home and write in your diary that you trained with Zlatan today, because I think it could be the last time that you do”. Ibra said on Crespo that ‘yes, he’s a striker but he cannot make the difference. There are only 3 players who make the difference: Zlatan, Messi and Ronaldo’. Such was his confidence and he is correct to think it. Ibra is one of the few strikers who is just as happy when he makes an assist as he is when he scores
  2. Zlatan on Carlo (I am Zlatan was written before he met Carlo so there’s no mention of him in the book, here) – he’s talked about a lot of coaches he worked with in his book. But here he compares the best with the best. Mourinho is the disciplinarian. Everything with him is a mind game. I became a top scorer under him and it worked for me. The way mourinho prepared for games was also new to me. I would get pumped up, believing the story he would feed us. Jose knows how to treat a footballer. But Carlo knows how to treat a person. He made it personal. With everyone. He does get angry, but mostly, his game is just respect. Carlo said, you do not win trophies now, you win them in the end of the season. There was chaos everywhere because a small club doesn’t know how to handle setbacks when they arrive. A big club knows that bad times are inevitable and they know how to handle them. However, no matter how much chaos there was, Carlo handled it. When I speak to him now he says, ‘Ibra, where do you want to go next? Which team? I’ll tell him that if he’s at a team I don’t need to think about it, I’ll be there. Anywhere but Russia’. When playing away to Lyon, winning the match could win the league. His eyebrow was already up in the morning because he was nervous. I said to him – Carlo, do you believe in god? Yes, he replied. So I said, that’s good, because you can believe in me. The eyebrow went up even more. They won!
    1. in my opinion, why everyone speaks so highly of him, part of this is because of the way he is with people – he’s very humble, which is not normal in the football business. He treats everybody as an equal. He never dismisses someone because they’re not at his level; he will always listen
    2. I’ve only seen Carlo angry a few times. When he loses his temper he shouts and screams in whatever language first comes to his mind and then, one minute after, he stops, catches his breath and goes outside. Then he returns, smoking a cigarette and totally calm – everything’s fine again. His ability to regain calmness very quickly is important
  1. I was playing for LA Galaxy and I was talking to Fabio Capello about my chances of being involved with the national side for the World Cup. He said to me, you need to go on loan to be involved. You need the right level of football. You should go to Milan. Carlo will look after you. That tells you everything you need to know about Carlo. When it came to the end of my career in America and I had the opportunity to go to Paris for 6 months, it was not a difficult decision. The challenge of being able to help the team win their first trophy on 19 years, the fact that it was Carlo asking and, of course, that Ibra was there as well meant there weren’t many reasons to say no. At Milan, we had constant video sessions and meetings about the other team and the individual players. He surrounds himself with great people and never leaves any stone unturned. Tactically, he Italian. That’s the type of manager he is and that’s why he’s had the success he’s had and will continue to be successful. He keeps doing things until they’re right. Even if you’re winning 3-0 or 4-0, and you are showboating, then that’s something Carlo won’t like. He likes professionalism at all time’s
  1. What does a CEO do at a football club? The CEO of a football company should industrialise the game of football. It is similar to the movie industry. A football match lasts 90 minutes, like a film, and it’s exploited the same way. The stadium is the movie theatre; its exploitation is in television and home viewing. You can spend a lot of money producing bad films, or less money and get successful films and games. You can’t guarantee it. The roles are the same as in the movies : the players are the actors, the coach is the director and the CEO is the producer. Carlo was my director at Milan. He also bought him as a player at Milan and went on to win big.

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