“I’ll speak to president Aurelio de Laurentiis tomorrow and we’ll make the best decision for Napoli.”
Manager Carlo Ancelotti was seemingly looking ahead after his side’s 4-0 thrashing of Genk took the Serie A club into the last 16 of the Champions League.
But the 60-year-old Italian was unaware about what was to follow – he was sacked as manager just a few hours later.
With vacancies available at Arsenal and Everton, could the former Chelsea boss potentially make a return to the Premier League in his next job?
European football journalists Guillem Balague, Mina Rzouki and Kristof Terreur discuss the options on BBC Radio 5 Live’s Football Daily podcast.
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‘He vanquishes and conquers any fear of the opponent’
Ancelotti was regarded as one of the finest Italian midfielders of his generation, winning three Serie A titles, two European Cups and four Coppa Italias in his time at Roma and AC Milan.
He went on to manage some of the biggest clubs in Europe’s top-five leagues and took the winning mentality with him, lifting league titles in four different countries, three Champions Leagues and a further three domestic cups.
The win over Belgian champions Genk was Napoli’s first in nine games – but ultimately his last – and he left with last season’s Serie A runners-up seventh in the table, 17 points behind leaders Inter Milan.
So what does the man nicknamed Carletto bring and how do his methods compare to other managers?
“Since 1999, he has managed Juventus, AC Milan, Chelsea, PSG, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Napoli,” says Balague. “You don’t think those clubs looked at him and thought, shall we give him a chance? They knew what they were getting, an experienced manager who deals with things when things are right, the club is settled.
“When the squad is strong, he can take them to the next level. Taking a team to the next level where they win things is the hardest thing in football.”
Rzouki says: “Ancelotti is not like someone like Inter manager Antonio Conte or others because he lets you think by yourself and win it by yourself all the time. He is not on the training ground saying ‘this is what I need you to do’.
“He is the kind of man who in the big moments hopes you have enough instructions to think for your own self without having to refer to him or anything else. It is about growing your own understanding and being a leader who can take the game by the scruff of the neck.
“If I am trying to win a league, I am not going for Ancelotti. If I want to dazzle in Europe then he is my number one choice. He does seem to place more of a priority on that and prefers to play the bigger teams with the better football that he likes to see.
“He is the man who won La Decima with Real Madrid, he is the only man this season to have beaten Liverpool with a Napoli side that did not have the right to do what they did. He is a guy who changes the team, makes you grow, makes you feel you are capable of defeating the best. He vanquishes and conquers any fear that you may have of the opponent.”
‘Good at connecting with big egos’
Ancelotti endured a difficult start to this season with Napoli, and was critical of the state of the club’s dressing rooms following renovation work at the Stadio San Paolo.
Last month the manager and Napoli players were in a high-profile dispute with president De Laurentiis, who had ordered the team to attend a week-long training camp. Ancelotti and his players all returned home.
He previously managed Chelsea in England, winning the Premier League and FA Cup Double in his first season in 2009-10, before being sacked by Roman Abramovich after a trophyless second campaign.
He will not be short of offers and has already been linked with the managerial vacancies at Arsenal and Everton, so is a return to the Premier League possible?
“Does he suit Arsenal? Absolutely not,” says Balague. “Unai Emery in theory would have been a good addition but it did not work. At Everton though, he could do a really good job.
“At Arsenal he would have to change the culture of the club, take all those groups who are not talking to each other and put them together so it is a lot of work for what Ancelotti can offer. What next for PSG if Thomas Tuchel goes? Ancelotti would be ideal.”
Terreur says: “You don’t have a lot of divas at Arsenal, he is like the ‘diva whisperer’. He is really good at connecting with the big egos and finds a way like Zinedine Zidane.
“He likes to work with difficult presidents; Silvio Berlusconi, Abramovich, Florentino Perez, Nasser Al-Khelaifi, De Laurentiis, he likes them all.”
Rzouki adds: “He has this desire to work with experienced professionals, he is not really there to motivate you to play this game. He feels that should be your job and you should know how to do it already.
“He needs champions rather than those he can build up to be champions. I don’t think he is the right choice for Arsenal.”