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Ancelotti: “I’m not the same Ancelotti as six years ago”

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The main quotes from the Italian’s introductory press conference

Everton v Wolverhampton Wanderers - Premier League Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Real Madrid presented Carlo Ancelotti as the club’s new coach on Wednesday afternoon, with the Italian speaking to the media about his return to the Spanish capital. He discussed a number of topics, but first spoke in general terms about his thoughts at returning to Los Blancos.

He said: “I promise the same as I did last time, which is to play good football. We want to play a more intense, more aggressive and more organised football. I think football has changed in the past few years. I’m not the same either. I’m a different Carlo Ancelotti. I’ve had new experiences in these years, some positive and some negative ones. But, even the negative experiences help you grow. The history of this club demands spectacular football. I’m going to give all my energy. I have very good memories of the two years I was here and the titles and relationships I had. I think we can repeat something good in this new experience. It’s a big responsibility, but a nice one because you’re coaching the best club in the world. Like in the past, I’ll give my all.”

Asked how much he has thought about planning the squad for the 2021/22 season, Ancelotti insisted that he hasn’t had time to look at specific situations yet, replying: “What I know is that Real Madrid will compete and do so with the best squad possible. I need to speak with the club about all of the specific situations, which we’ll do in the coming days. My return happened very quickly. It started truly on Saturday, so I’ve not had time to talk about these things. That’s the truth. There hasn’t been time to start to work yet. We’ll do that in the next few days and we’ll try to do that in the best way possible for Real Madrid. I’ve thanked the president, because being here at Real Madrid is very special for me.”

Despite his desire not to go into much detail when talking about the squad, the coach did state that he thinks the current group is very talented. Asked if he thinks he could win with the current squad, he said: “I think yes, with this squad. There’s a mix of players with experience, like Kroos, Modrić, Ramos, Bale and Benzema. then there are some very young players with a lot of quality like Vinícius, Rodyrgo and Valverde. There were even some players loaned out like Bale, Ødegaard and Ceballos and, even still, this Real Madrid side reached the Champions League semis and fought for LaLiga. So, of course they can win. I know the squad very well and I know some of the young players very well too. We have many options. I want to evaluate all the players calmly and precisely. The squad is very big so we need to trim it down a little.”

Ancelotti was pressed on one player in particular, on Sergio Ramos. On the captain, the coach said: “Sergio Ramos is a very important player for Real Madrid and been very important to the club’s successes. I know he’s discussing his renewal. But, I don’t know the details right now because I’ve been in Liverpool until yesterday.”

Ancelotti on his style of play

As mentioned above, the Italian stated that he feels football has changed. Asked, then, how he plans to get his team to score more goals, like they did during his first stint, he spoke about how there’s a need for a strong system and the need for contributions from across the pitch.

On scoring more goals, he said: “Benzema needs to score 50 and not 30 [chuckles]. Vinícius has to score more... I’m very happy with how Karim has done, as he’s evolved a lot and has more responsibility now. Then there are youngsters who have a lot of potential, like Rodrygo and Vinícius. I think the objective is so score goals. It’s not just about signing a striker who scores goals. We need to try to find more goals from the midfielders and wingers. It’s about creating an offensive system and mentality.”

Ancelotti on new arrivals

Although he didn’t want to discuss individual players, Ancelotti did talk in some detail about Cristiano Ronaldo when a potential return for the Portuguese was brought up. He said: “I really care for Cristiano, but I don’t like to talk about players at other clubs. He has a contract at another club. I don’t think it’s right to talk about him when he has a contract at Juventus. I can say I was really happy with him. He’s still doing well. Somebody asked me if he’s at the end of his career, yet he’s still scoring 30 or 35 goals.”

A return for Gareth Bale, who is actually still a Real Madrid player, was mentioned too. Ancelotti was asked how he felt the Welshman did in the Premier League last year, saying: “Gareth didn’t play a lot. He didn’t have a lot of time back in the Premier League. But, he scored a lot of goals, especially in the last few matches. I know him very well and I think he has the motivation to play as well as possible. He could have a very good season. I have no doubts about that.”

Finally, speaking in a general sense, he stated that having superstars is important, but only if the foundations are right, stating: “Quality players give you a better chance of winning. From the base of a balanced team that can play together, it’s important to have quality.”

Ancelotti on his relationship with Zidane

Zidane’s farewell letter was discussed and Ancelotti was asked he was worried about the suggestions made by the Frenchman and if he identified with them.

On that, he said: “I don’t know the personal relationship Zidane had with the president. Answering that is tough for me. When Real Madrid called me about returning, I had zero doubts.”

Praising his former assistant’s work generally, he said: “What can I say about Zizou? He won three European Cups in a moment. He did everything well. Everyone has to thank Zizou. What he did was incredible. I haven’t spoken to him yet, but I will definitely speak to him soon. In the last few years, we’ve exchanged just a few messages. He’s a friend above everything. One coach comes and another goes, but that’s football.”