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What makes Carlo Ancelotti such a special manager? | Graham Hunter

Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti is special, not just because of his record in winning silverware, according to football writer Graham Hunter.

Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti is special, not just because of his record in winning silverware, according to football writer Graham Hunter.

Real Madrid face Liverpool in the UEFA Champions League final at the end of May. If Madrid win the title, it would be Ancelotti's fourth Champions League title as manager.

Ancelotti is one of only three managers to have won the UEFA Champions League three times, and the first and only one to have managed teams in five finals.

'Carletto' has won domestic titles in Italy, England, France, Spain, and Germany, becoming the first manager to have won league titles in Europe's top five leagues.

However, it is not his record of winning silverware that make the Madrid manager such a special man-manager, according to Graham.

Speaking on The Football Show, Hunter discussed the rise of Ancelotti the manager, after he was forced into what many consider an early retirement.

"He showed it from the instant that [Arrigo] Sacchi said to him, 'you are too old to be playing, give it up'," Hunter said. "Sacchi said to him I think at 30, 31, 'You are too slow, your injuries have ruined you. Give up, stop playing. Come and be my assistant in the World Cup '94 with the Azzuri'.

"They went to the final together as coach and assistant coach. From the instant he made the transition from that clever, organising midfielder that he was at Roma and AC Milan, it was patently clear that the things he did well on the pitch he could transfer to the coaching ground. That's the basic premise."

It is a rare skill to be able to both play and manage at the highest level. Hunter feels that only a few special talents have what it takes to transfer their knowledge onto other players.

"Not all footballers can do that," Hunter said. "Xavi is a great example right now, he can do it. There are many examples of exceptional coaches who never played high-level football.

"There are many examples of exceptional footballers who literally know how to do it, but can't teach it. They can't explain it and lose patience.

"Ancelotti has got an extremely good football brain. There is no doubt about that. But it's his player-whispering skills, and his ability to manage upwards, those are the two things that complete the hat-trick."

Ancelotti's management 'hat-trick'

For Hunter, Ancelotti's clear understanding of football is one thing, but it is his ability to manage the people that sign his paycheques that makes him exceptional.

"He has a clear higher-level understanding of football," Hunter said. "At AC Milan he was managing upwards where [Silvio] Berlusconi was going to him saying, 'I want you to play 4-4-2 today, I want him to play, I want all this'.

"Ancelotti managed that upwards. If you manage that skill, then even Roman Abramovich is going to be an absolute scoosh."

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has trademarked his hug around players when giving them instructions, praise and even criticism.

However, Hunter feels that it is Ancelotti that should be given attention for the manner in which he 'whispers' to his players.

"Ancelotti has [this] ability to take people aside and say, 'I want this from you,' or, 'you've got this in you,' or, 'here's how you are going to teach that'," Hunter said.

"He is somebody that has a brilliant, and I mean literally brilliant effect on great players, that might be in another club a little bit bored, a little bit egotistical thinking that 85 percent will do.

"There is a long history of Ancelotti taking a vast list of superstar players and making them punch at least their weight and often above.

"That is an invaluable quality, and it partly explains why he's the only man ever to coach a team to winning the title in each of Europe's top five leagues."

Ancelotti has suggested that he will be retiring from management after his time with Real Madrid is done. Should he complete the feat of beating Liverpool on May 28th, his storied management career should go down as one of the greatest.

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