In the notoriously precarious profession of football management, there is perhaps no more insecure position than that of a Real Madrid coach.
Some 11 different men have passed through the Madrid exit door since the turn of the century, having often struggled to meet the Spanish club’s demands for instant success and global domination.
And with Real Madrid behind Barcelona in the race for the La Liga title after a run of poor results at the start of this year, there has been plenty of speculation over current coach Carlo Ancelotti’s future.
Former club president Ramon Calderon, though, is hopeful the Italian will be sticking around at the Santiago Bernabeu.
“My wish will be that he stays with us and remains as the coach of Real Madrid,” Calderon told CNN World Sport.
Last season, Ancelotti succeeded where many of his predecessors had failed in leading the club to its long-awaited “La Decima” – a 10th European Cup – yet question marks still remain over whether the 55-year-old will see out his contract, which expires in 2016.
Despite going on a 22-match unbeaten run earlier in the season, league defeats by Atletico Madrid, Athletic Bilbao and Barcelona left Ancelotti’s side trailing their Catalan rivals in the league and now facing a two-point deficit with six games to play.
Atletico’s Spanish Cup quarterfinal win over Real didn’t help matters either.
“I think nobody knows (what will happen) – him or the club – they don’t know what is going to happen at the end of the season,” said Calderon, Real’s president from 2006 to 2009. “You never know, in this club it is difficult to say.”
Ancelotti did manage to ease some of that pressure on Wednesday as Real advanced past Atletico to reach the Champions League semifinals.
The 1-0 quarterfinal second-leg win was Real’s first victory over Atletico this season after the eighth attempt, and set up a last-four clash with Juventus next month.
“He’s done things in a very, very good way. In any sense, to deal with a dressing room of 22 stars is very difficult, and also with the obligation to win every match, that’s very difficult,” added Calderon
“I don’t know what he thinks, if he will decide to stay, or if the club decides he can have the contract as it is – he has got one more year. So I think he will be here.”
But given the history of the club, arguably only a successful Champions League defense – a feat no club has managed in the competition’s current format – might enable Ancelotti to keep his job.
It would give Ancelotti his fourth Champions League crown as a coach, having won it twice at AC Milan – where he lifted the old European Cup two seasons in a row as a player.
Calderon, however, concedes it is hard to tell what lies around the corner at Real, even if the end of the season does bring with it more trophies.
“I don’t think it’s a matter of getting titles,” he said. “You have the example of (Vicente) del Bosque – he won two Champions Leagues, he won the league, and just in the year he won the league the president decided to sack him.
“So there are other factors that are always influencing in the decision of keeping the coach,” the 63-year-old added.
“And also the decision of the coach. Sometimes they are quite proud and honored to be coaching this club, but they say enough is enough. They feel the pressure, they find that sometimes they are not well treated.
“It is not the case with this coach. He’s always acting, behaving, and saying things quite wisely, so I don’t know. But it’s not about the titles.”