Carlo Ancelotti should not be the scapegoat for Real Madrid’s organizational failures

Real Madrid, Carlo Ancelotti (Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Carlo Ancelotti (Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images) /

Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti has come under fire from the fanbase recently. Some of those criticisms are valid and need to be made. Ancelotti has a bad habit of overusing the same few players, getting results, and then watching the team falter as the weight of the minutes played adds up. We saw this in 2014/15.

His recent decisions on who to start, too, were not ideal. Marco Asensio as a false nine against Athletic Bilbao? In what universe would that have worked? And then Ancelotti nearly dropped points against Granada, but at least he had the honesty to realize Luka Jovic and Eden Hazard should have been on the pitch all along.

What I don’t like, though, is how far the criticisms have gone. Some of them don’t take into account that Ancelotti has the team in first. “Easy” LaLiga or not, Real are in a state of transition themselves, so it is still worth praising a new manager for keeping the team’s standard high amidst a sea of changes and disappointment from the other big clubs in Spain. He has done a great job of unlocking the potential of the players in attack, helping Marco Asensio score more goals and Vinicius Jr. to find that next level to his game.

And at the root of it, the criticisms against Ancelotti for not rotating are only a half-truth. They are a half-truth because there are some players he should be playing more. Namely Fede Valverde, who changed the game against Granada, perhaps to an even greater extent than the forwards Hazard and Jovic.

Real Madrid haven’t thought about how their backups fit

However, I see Ancelotti getting blamed for running Karim Benzema and Ferland Mendy into the ground due to their recent injuries. Yet Zinedine Zidane also relied on these two players a great deal last season. Benzema just did not have international duty, which, to be fair, Ancelotti should have anticipated leading to an increased workload, while Mendy ended up with a serious overuse injury that cost him months.

Ancelotti has to take accountability and do a better job of managing the squad’s fitness. But the larger problem here is that the bench just isn’t good enough. You can look at the teams Real Madrid want to compete with in the Champions League, and you will see that Manchester City and Bayern Munich have significantly better depth than Los Merengues, particularly in the attack. Specifically, on the wings of the attack.

Look at the players currently out. Who can do what Benzema does as the No. 9? Nobody. We know how important he is. Hell, who wants to tell this guy he can’t play? Can you imagine it being easy to ask Benzema to take matches off? The man is injured and is still desperate to face PSG!

Luka Jovic is a good striker, but he does not fit how Real Madrid want to play. He was a 60 million euro miscalculation. Mariano Diaz, the backup to a backup, was an even bigger mistake, in the sense that he does not even have the level to play for the club.

Real Madrid were too complacent on the transfer market in recent years

There are cases of bad investments, not selling players sooner, and simply not being proactive enough with signings or believing in youth (Achraf Hakimi, as one possible example).

Real Madrid have not done horribly as an organization in building their squad, but there is a reason why the “old guard” is so important. After striking gold for a few years in the transfer market, Real have been complacent since then. Hence why they are going to be so aggressive with signing young players and top players in 2022. They are actually going for worthwhile investments.

Meanwhile, Ancelotti is the man picking up the pieces and doing his best to win trophies in this final year before the reinforcements arrive. He should be appreciated for taking on this difficult task after Zinedine Zidane left, lest we forget because of all the unfair expectations and pressure of navigating this transition.

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Ancelotti cannot lose LaLiga and must focus on his weaknesses. At the same time, Madridistas should take a measured view of these weaknesses in the context of the overall squad. Because the same players who could not settle in the team under Zidane are the same players Ancelotti avoids selecting. These players are not bad, but they just do not have what it takes to meet the standard of Real Madrid when they are in the starting XI.