Less than 24 hours after a 3-0 drubbing at PSG in the Champions League, Carlo Ancelotti is out at Bayern Munich.
Bayern announced that it had parted company with the Italian manager early Thursday afternoon.
Breaking: #FCBayern part ways with Carlo Ancelotti.
— FC Bayern US (@FCBayernUS) September 28, 2017
Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said he made the decision in the wake of the defeat in Paris.
“The performance of our team since the start of the season did not meet the expectations we put to them,” Rummenigge said. “The game in Paris clearly showed that we had to draw consequences. [Bayern sporting director] Hasan Salihamidzic and I had an open and serious discussion with Carlo today and informed him of our decision.”
But it wasn’t just the PSG game that triggered the decision. It was seemingly months of discontent, and a feeling that Bayern wasn’t up to its typical dominant level. The five-time reigning German champions had already dropped five points in the league. They blew a two-goal lead to draw Wolfsburg at home last Friday, and previously lost 2-0 at Hoffenheim.
Ancelotti’s tenure lasted just over a year. He was brought in before the 2016-17 season to replace Pep Guardiola. Ancelotti’s Bayern comfortably won the Bundesliga last season, but crashed out of the Champions League in the quarterfinals to the eventual winner, Real Madrid. It also lost in the German Cup semifinals to Borussia Dortmund.
Ancelotti was far from a flop in Munich. He took charge of 60 games in all competitions. He won 42, drew nine and lost nine. The Champions League quarterfinal defeat to Madrid was heavily influenced by controversial refereeing decisions.
Yet there was always a sense that his one full season in charge was a failure. In a way, he was a victim of Bayern’s previous success.
And in a way, he was a victim of the club’s inability to replenish a depleted, aging squad – though still a very strong one. Two of the club’s stalwarts, Philipp Lahm and Xabi Alonso, retired after last season. Manuel Neuer is out until January with a fractured foot, and his replacement, Sven Ulreich, was at fault in both the PSG loss and the Wolfsburg draw.
Meanwhile, two key pieces of Bayern’s attacking core, Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery, are 33 and 34 years old, respectively. Their effectiveness has waned. Ancelotti was questioned for resting both on Wednesday in Paris, but neither is physically able to play two matches per week at this stage in his career. Bayern’s roster is no longer in the conversation for world’s best, and no longer head and shoulders above the rest of the Bundesliga.
Which is why, perhaps, it no longer made sense to rely on Ancelotti. The Italian has always been seen as a steadying force – as a manager who will get a group of players to perform exactly in line with their collective talent level. He won’t turn a team of unknown upstarts into a title contender, but he won’t ruin one of world-class superstars.
That’s why he has continued to get top jobs. He has won each of Europe’s big five leagues. After a wildly successful eight-year run at AC Milan, he’s managed Chelsea, PSG, Real Madrid and Bayern. He won trophies at all four stops, but lasted more than two full seasons at none. His stint in Munich was the shortest of the lot.
Bayern’s problems were and are bigger than Ancelotti. But they are elitist problems, only troubling to a club with Bayern-sized aspirations. Ancelotti’s replacement will have plenty to work with, and will be expected to claim a sixth-straight Bundesliga crown at the very least.
Willy Sagnol, a former French international defender who joined the club’s coaching staff this past summer, will take over for Ancelotti on an interim basis. The search for a permanent successor will commence shortly.
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Henry Bushnell covers soccer – the U.S. national teams, the Premier League, and much, much more – for FC Yahoo and Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Question? Comment? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @HenryBushnell.