If there’s one thing CFCnet has learnt after reading Carlo Ancelotti’s autobiography, it’s this: Ancelotti would prefer to die a slow painful death at the hands of the Neapolitan Camorra than share a room with ‘His Specialness’. Come to think of it, his wish might be granted sooner than he thinks.
Far be it for CFCnet to know the workings of the Italian mafia, and God knows we’re happy to remain ignorant on the matter, but Ancelotti recounts how he and Arrigo Sacchi were invited to a celebration in their own honour during World Cup ’94. Jointly hosted by, wait for it, the Sicilian Mafia, the Calabrian ‘Ndrangheta, the Neapolitan Camorra and the Sacra Corona Unita, Ancelotti happily regales us with a witty story before telling the aforementioned crime families to, “go f**k yourselves, enough is enough”. No wonder he’s had bad knees throughout his career, they’re just priming themselves for the final gunshot.
For anyone interested in our Double winning manager, Ancelotti’s autobiography entitled ‘The beautiful games of an ordinary genius’ is a must-read. Superbly written, the book flows seamlessly across various eras of Carlo’s career from his playing days in one of the greatest teams of all time (Sacchi’s AC Milan circa 1988-1992) to his later managerial posts including Parma, Juventus and AC Milan.
The book’s already been serialised so there’s no point talking in-depth about his frosty relationship with Capello (“he’s a grouch….maybe that’s why Gullit hung him up on the dressing room wall in Milanello”). Ancelotti twice lobs a few more grenades in the England manager’s direction making Fabio out to be, amongst other things, an aloof neurotic.
He reserves the same treatment for Mourinho. The Special One comes in for a welter of oblique criticism including sarcastic volleys such as “the Special Coach who never has to ask (although he was asked repeatedly about the Champions League at Chelsea and seemed to offer no reply)”. Or how about, “the Lord of the Press Conference”, or “He who Knows” or “with a Portuguese accent he would have said just one thing ‘zero tituli for AC Milan’” before ending the chapter with the immortal words, “zero tituli my ass” after hoisting aloft the Champions League trophy once more in Athens.
If there is one single failure of the book it’s that it fails to deal with Jose Mourinho head-on. For a few years Ancelotti and Jose were respective managers of two sworn enemies in the form of Inter and AC. There’s not a sentence about this rivalry, probably because Jose repeatedly had the upper hand, and no doubt because Carlo’s current charges such as Drogba, Lampard and Essien hold such loyalty towards Jose. No one like’s their ex being slated, especially after a deep love affair.
Both witty and insightful, the book offers a fantastic window into the day-to-day workings of some of Europe’s top football clubs particularly from a personal, human relations viewpoint. Players are ordinary mortals and the book is littered with anecdotes involving some of the world’s best players. After all, Carlo has played with Gullit, Rijkaard and Van Basten, managed Zidane (“the best player I ever coached”) and Kaka (“when I first saw him in training I stopped talking because there were no words to express what I was feeling”) to name a few.
His few words of self-criticism come in the form of how, early on in his managerial career, he was intractable and rigid with talented players. This lost him the chance to work with both Roberto Baggio and also Gianfranco Zola who he sold to….Chelsea. Gianfranco went on to spend seven glorious seasons at Chelsea and was instrumental in us winning our first trophies for 26 years. Obviously, Carlo was our friend even in 1996. Either that or he was plain mad to sell a player so prodigiously gifted as Franco.
The only word of criticism CFCnet would reserve for the book is that Carlo makes an obvious play to one day become coach of Real Madrid. The Blues manager offers not so much an olive branch to Florentino Perez as a Tuscan olive grove – it’s that blatant and involves a number of pages. CFCnet finished that particular chapter and went for a toilet break to flush it out of our system.
Still, ‘The beautiful games of an ordinary genius’ is an extraordinary book that gives a real insight into the workings of some of Europe’s top football clubs and the personalities inhabiting them. Littered with anecdotes and immensely funny, Carlo’s drafted a memorable book.