MADRID (AP) — Real Madrid picked an experienced former coach instead of another former player to try to put the team back on track after a disappointing season.
Madrid hired Carlo Ancelotti on Tuesday to replace Zinedine Zidane, who quit last week after the team’s first trophyless season in more than a decade. Many expected the job to go to former Madrid great Raul Gonzalez, who like Zidane had been coaching the team’s "B" squad before taking over the main squad.
But club president Florentino Perez instead went with the coach who led the team to its 10th European title back in 2014, signing him for the next three seasons. The 61-year-old Ancelotti coached the Spanish powerhouse for two seasons from 2013 to 2015, winning a total of four titles.
Ancelotti also won two Champions League titles with AC Milan and boasts success coaching clubs in all five top European leagues. He arrives at Madrid after leaving Premier League club Everton, where he had been since late 2019.
"While I have enjoyed being at Everton, I have been presented with an unexpected opportunity which I believe is the right move for me and my family at this time," Ancelotti said in a statement on Everton’s website.
Ancelotti is Madrid’s coach with the most wins in his first 100 competitive games at the helm of the Spanish powerhouse, with 78. His other titles with Madrid came in the Copa del Rey, the Spanish Super Cup and FIFA’s Club World Cup.
"The Italian returns to our club after rewriting the history books during his first spell in the Real Madrid hot seat," Madrid said in a statement. "The new coach boasts vast experience and an impressive trophy haul."
He will take over a squad that was marred by injuries this season. It was unclear if some key players will return, including Sergio Ramos. There’s also uncertainty about whether players like Gareth Bale will be back after being away on loan. Big signings are not expected as the club continues to struggle financially.
Ancelotti joined Everton in December 2019, taking over from Marco Silva. The club finished 12th in the Premier League last year, before a 10th-place finish in Ancelotti’s only full season in charge.
"I would like to thank Everton FC, my players and the supporters for giving me the opportunity to manage this fantastic and historical club," Ancelotti said on Twitter. "I decided to leave as I have a new challenge with a team that was always in my heart, Real Madrid."
Zidane was Ancelotti’s assistant when Madrid won its 10th European trophy. Zidane eventually led Madrid to consecutive Champions League titles from 2016-18, but he quit last week saying he didn’t have the support of the club for a long-term project. He led Madrid to 11 titles in two different stints.
In this last one, which began in March 2019, Madrid fought for the Spanish league title until the final round but finished two points behind city rival Atletico Madrid, failing to defend its title and lift back-to-back league trophies for the first time since 2007-08.
In the Champions League, Zidane led the team to the semifinals, but it was eventually eliminated by Chelsea. In the Copa del Rey, Madrid lost to third-division club Alcoyano in the round of 32.
Other coaches who had been touted to replace Zidane included Antonio Conte, Mauricio Pochettino and Xabi Alonso.
Ancelotti replaced Jose Mourinho at Madrid in 2013, taking over a team that still had Cristiano Ronaldo and Bale at their best, and also included the likes of Angel Di Maria and Alonso.
The team won the European title in that first season but struggled in the second, leading to the Ancelotti’s firing.
The Italian now gets a second chance with Madrid, where the goal will be to make the Spanish powerhouse a winner again.