Strictly speaking, Carlo Ancelotti is the 12th Real Madrid coach to manage the club in two separate stints.
The first two were pre-1950s, the first being former legendary Jacinto Quincoces who managed the club for the 1945-46 season and returned two years later for a brief stint before being let go once again. Between Quincoces two rounds as manager, Baltasar Albeniz managed the team. He also returned as coach for the 1950-51 season, though, like Quincoces was also sacked before he could oversee a significant number of games.
Miguel Munoz was another whose coaching career is technically split in two. He stepped in for Luis Carniglia, who was ill, and managed a handful of games during the 1957-58 season while the Argentine recovered. Vicente Del Bosque came in twice during the 90s as a caretaker coach before being entrusted with the full time job during the 1999-2000 season. Finally, Alfredo Di Stefano returned to the coaching role briefly during the 1990-91 season where he oversaw his only trophy success in four seasons overall at the helm, a 5-1 Supercopa victory against Barcelona.
None of these terms were particularly long and, as such, its hard to see them as truly separate stints. In reality, only eight coaches truly qualify for having a second go at the helm of Real Madrid, overseeing two significant spells at the club which occurred years or decades after their first ended.
In celebration of this weird statistic, I decided to rank those particular coaches based off of their second stints at the club and perhaps gain an insight into how the same trick fares twice at Real Madrid.
5. John Toshack.
This was an easy one. John Toshack is one of the handful of UK coaches to have managed Real Madrid and is well known in Spain for his stints at Los Blancos as well Real Sociedad, Deportivo La Coruna and Murica.
The Welshman originally took over as Real coach for the 1989-1990 season. Real were, at the time, four time defending Spanish champions and aiming for a record equaling fifth crown. He was considered quite a cynical hire by Madrid fans due to his defensive style, however, his willingness to build around Hugo Sanchez saw Real score a then record 107 goals and to win their most comfortable title of the Quinta era. Despite the league crown, Toshack made a lot of enemies due to his poor man management and was sacked in November of the following season after results turned sour.
Seven years later, Toshack was approached to take over Guus Hiddink with Real Madrid seventh in the table and in threat of missing out on European football. Real eventually finished runners up, but one has to wonder how that alone earned Toshack a second season. His first game back in charge was a 3-2 defeat to Real Betis, Real then went out of the Champions League to Dynamo Kyiv, were humiliated 5-1 by Celta and crashed out of the Copa del Rey to Valencia with a 6-0 loss at the Mestalla (that’s across 90 minutes not 180.).
One can’t help but see the irony that defending was the main issue for Real under Toshack and that, in albeit bizarre manner, that it would be his downfall at Real is quite poetic. Following a 3-2 victory over Rayo Vallecano during the 1999-2000 season, Toshack told the press that goalkeeper, Albano Bizzarri, let in goals that made him weep. The comment wasn’t taken kindly by president Lorenzo Sanz and Toshack reply when asked to apologize was even less welcome, ”there’s more chance of a pig flying over the Bernabeu than for me to withdraw my comments.” A famous Marca cover of guess what over the Bernabeu along with news of Toshack’s sacking promptly followed.
4. Leo Beenhakker.
Poor Leo. The Dutchman probably deserves his day in the sun as one Real Madrid best managers. As the main managerial face behind the Quinta era, Beenhakker boasts an impressive domestic record. He’s one of just four Real Madrid coaches to have won three or more league titles with Real Madrid and just the second (after Munoz) to have done so conseuctively. He’s the only manager to have overseen a domestic treble (LaLiga, Copa del Rey and Supercopa) which the team achieved in his last season in charge.
Beenhakker’s main failing at Madrid was a lack of European success and despite consistent semi-finals, Real couldn’t seem to break their glass ceiling in Europe. By 1988-89 the feeling amongst the players and supporters was that it was make or break time, but, Los Blancos were hopelessly outclassed by Saachi’s AC Milan, losing 5-0 away from home and crashing out a step short of the final once more. The game sealed Beenhakker’s fate and he was dismissed that summer.
In 1992, Beenhakker returned to Madrid as a sporting director and was put in charge of the first team in December following the sacking of Radomir Antic. Antic’s dismissal was completely unjustified with Madrid top of the league at the halfway point of the season and in the UEFA Cup quarter finals. A maestro at winning league titles with the Quinta del Buitre, Beenhakker was unable to close the deal with Antic’s team. They were, once again, sent packing at the semi-finals stage of a European tournament by Torino and slowly dwindled away their league advantage. The title went to the final matchday and a spectacular loss to Tenerife handed Johan Cyruff’s Barcelona their second consecutive LaLiga crown. Further salt was added to the wounds later on with a Copa del Rey final loss to Atletico Madrid and Beenhakker was dismissed for a second time.
2. Zinedine Zidane/Fabio Capello
Zidane and Capello are genuinely hard to separate as there are a lot of parallels between their tenures. Zidane’s story is still fresh in most minds and, naturally, doesn’t need recounting. Capello joined Real Madrid for the first time in 1996-97 where he signed some crucial pieces for the team that would eventually break Madrid’s 32 year wait for a seventh European title. His side won LaLiga, however the Italian was lured back to AC Milan that summer and wouldn’t return to the Spanish capital for exactly a decade later.
This time he took over a Madrid side that was suffering one of the worst trophy droughts in its history and, in dramatic fashion, managed to break the duct with his second and Real Madrid’s 30th LaLiga title. He was dismissed that summer due to his pragmatic playing style.
The similarities between Zidane and Capello are that they both took over sides in crisis and were able to produce titles, be it in their reign or after they had left. One might argue that Capello has the edge as he won with two completely different dressing rooms, however, recency bias and the domineering manner in which Zidane’s Madrid won the league crown in 2019-20 has them level for now.
1. Luis Molowny.
The easiest entries of this ranking are bottom and top. Until Zinedine Zidane recently overtook him, Luis Molowny was Real Madrid’s second most successful coach, a record he set across an unprecedented four spells as manager.
Molowny’s story with Real starts when the 21-year-old midfielder joined the club in 1946-47. Known for his impressive goalscoring, Molowny managed a modest trophy haul with Real as a player before finishing his playing days with Las Palmas in 1956-57. Immediately after his retirement, he was hired as Las Palmas coach and, in spite of relegation to Segunda in his second season, remained in charge of side until Real came calling in 1973-74. At that stage, Miguel Munoz had resigned with the team languishing mid-table. Molowny was able to restore some diginity with a Copa del Rey triumph but the sixth place in the league obviously played a role in choosing not to keep Molowny on for a second season.
The former midfielder stuck around the club in different roles before being called upon again in 1977-1978 to take over Milan Miljanic. Going one step further than his first stint, Molowny won the league title and, having been kept on for a second season, retained the crown the following year. In 1978-79, Real Madrid hired Vujadin Boskov to replace Molowny. The Serbian last just over two seasons before Molowny was once again returned to rescue Madrid’s season in March 1982, overseeing another Copa del Rey title.
Molowny final spell in charge of Real Madrid was as the first established coach of the Quinta era. Taking over from Amancio Amaro, Molowny oversaw the last 10 games of the 1984-85 season, a spell which saw Madrid win the Copa de Liga (now defunct) and the UEFA Cup. The following year, Molowny won his third league title as Real Madrid manager and retained the UEFA Cup before departing the coaching role for the final time.
His distinguished record goes a long way to explaining his motto “everything for Real Madrid. Full dedication” and Carlo Ancelotti has alot of work (and a couple more returns) if he’s to overtake Madrid’s most famous fireman.