Carlo Ancelotti has only been Real Madrid manager for a few days but already there is a more positive feel amongst the press and fans compared the the final season of the Jose Mourinho era.
The contrast has been stark so far. Mourinho was spiky and irritable, often refusing to talk to the media for months on end. In his first press conference as Los Blancos manager, two-time European Cup winning manager Ancelotti appeared relaxed, respectful and in control. Indeed, he even found time to joke with members of the press. A good start.
There was also a marked difference in plans for Madrid’s style of play. Mourinho’s teams are always built on a sound defence and devastating counter-attacking play. When it works, it’s spectacular. You just have to think back to the record-breaking title season in 2011-12 to see that. But most neutrals would agree it’s not the most pleasing on the eye.
Ancelotti on the other hand harked back to Madrid’s tradition and history of playing “spectacular football”. And he says he will restore that style of play while he is in charge.
While his words and ideas have been impressive, the Italian is under no illusion about the size of the task that lies ahead, and the work starts immediately.
First of all, Ancelotti needs to work out his playing squad. Los Blancos have signed a number of players already and there is the prospect of more additions – Gareth Bale and Luis Suarez have been strongly linked with moves to the Santiago Bernabeu.
He will also have to rubberstamp his approval on the list of departures. Gonzalo Higuain looks to be on his way to Arsenal, but question marks remain over the likes of Kaka, di Maria, Pepe and most importantly, Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese playmaker has made public his unhappiness in Madrid, and his old club Manchester United are keen to take their favourite son back to Old Trafford.
The issue of assistant manager is an intriguing point too. Ancelotti brought Englishman Paul Clement with him from PSG to be his right hand man. But the club also announced Zinedine Zidane is to take his first steps into coaching and will also sit alongside Ancelotti in the dugout. Many had though the Frenchman would take up the role of Director of Football, so quite how the relationship works out between the three-man team remains to be seen.
Ancelotti has plenty of work to do then, and with the pressure of being expected to wrestle back the title from Barcelona and secure the coveted Decima (10th) European Cup, his has a busy schedule in Madrid.
We wish him luck!