ESPN FC's Raphael Honigstein sat down with Bayern Munich manager Carlo Ancelotti to discuss first impressions at the Allianz Arena, the evolution of coaching and his own managerial style, and how his tactical approach might change from Pep Guardiola's.
After two weeks in Munich, what are your first impressions of the club, the team and the city?
First impressions are that it's a beautiful experience for me. I found a fantastic club that's really well organised, a beautiful city that's really clean, and the first training sessions have been good. The players are focused, we have a really good squad for the season. Everything is okay until now.
Have you been able to get a sense of how good this team could be? And do you think it'll be fun working with them?
Until now, we (only) have seven (first-team) players here, most are on vacation. But I think the team are really good, the squad is very competitive in all positions of the pitch. I'm very happy and I think we can have a good season.
You've been in charge of the biggest clubs, the biggest players, the biggest egos. How do you see the challenge at Bayern?
The challenge is always the same: You have to be able to build a good relationship with players, to find a good strategy for games, to help players do their best. It's always the same. Everyone has their own character and you have to manage that.
How has coaching changed since you started out at Reggiana 20 years ago?
A lot. My job is completely different to 20 years ago. 20 years ago, you had 16 players, one game per week. Now you have 25 players and a game every three days. It's totally different. It's not possible to train a lot on the pitch. Maybe you can use more video to explain players the strategy of the game. But it's basically play and rest.
How have you changed as coach?
My style is always the same. The most important thing, as I said, is to develop a relationship with my team and to find the right solutions for playing on the pitch, together with them.
Has coaching also become more technical?
I would say more psychological. You have to mange 25 players, only 11 can play. You have to keep the other 14 motivated and that is the most difficult part of my job. Every player wants to play every game, you have to explain to them that they're very important, even if they don't play every game.
Is that the toughest part?
Yes it is. Not the technical part, because it's not about explaining to someone how to play, but how they have to behave. And that's really difficult.
How will the tactical approach change from what we've seen under Pep Guardiola at Bayern over the last three years?
I don't want to make a revolution. Because what this team did in the last three years with Guardiola was really good, they played really well, I don't want to change a lot. Of course I'd like to put (forward) my idea, the players have to be convinced by it. And after that try, we will try and continue this way because this is a good way, I think.
What's your idea? Or is this about tweaking smaller things?
Because we are a strong club with really good players the idea is to play good football, to attack well, to score a lot of goals, to try to avoid goals. Football is not complicated. Good football is simple.
Did you ever come close to being a manager of an international team?
No, I didn't come close. I'd like to work every day, be on the pitch every day. Maybe future, I don't know. But right now, the idea to train a club day by day.
You wouldn't be able to coach enough as an international manager?
It's a very difficult job, because there is no time to train, no time to prepare the team. For that reason, we didn't see high-level football at the Euros. The schedule of the games is so tight that you have no time to organise a team well. It's difficult for national teams to play good football.
It's easier to defend.
Of course. With the ball, it's more difficult, you have to be creative. Without the ball, when you just defend, that's the easiest.
Are you a bit afraid that trend will go towards more defensive football, with teams counter-attacking all the time?
I'm not afraid, because football is always like this. There's a period when possession is (considered) the best way, there is a period when counter-attack is (considered) the best way, and not. That is football. No news.
You wrote during the Euros that Arrigo Sacchi's Milan could do both: Play with possession and counter-attack. You had read balance in that team. Is that the ideal of football?
The most important word in football is balance, in my opinion. To be good with the ball, and good without the ball. This is our job.
Are you looking forward to playing against Milan and Real Madrid on the U.S. tour, two of your former teams? Are these special games for you, against special clubs?
Of course. I was a player and a manager at Milan, I stayed there for 13 years, with really special memories. Also at Real Madrid, I had two really, really intensive years, it was a really, really good experience. These will be a special games, even if they're friendlies.
Is it easier for you to prepare players for (friendly) games against big teams?
It's really exciting for players to play against big teams because that gives you motivation and concentration. Loads of people are going to watch the game, so that's better for every player to play that kind of game. The result, everyone knows that, is not the most important thing. But it's important to have a good performance, to play well and to try to improve your condition before the start of the season.
Some players will only come back next month. How long will it take, you think, for Bayern to be your team on the pitch and play exactly the way you want them to?
All the players are back on August 5. As I said, there's no need for a revolution, so I hope that the team will be ready at the start of the season, for the Supercup against Dortmund on August 14. [source]