Carlo Ancelotti, Everyone’s Cool Soccer Uncle, Just Keeps Winning
9:00 AM EDT on May 5, 2022
Look at this face. Go on, look at it. Let the seeming befuddlement wash over you as you think about mocking him. Then look at him again, and imagine how a man can claim, as he has, that he simply has no control over his wayward left eyebrow.
Now look at him celebrating Real Madrid's La Liga title, which they claimed just a few days before defeating Manchester City on Wednesday to advance to the Champions League Final.
Now look at the guy he'll be trying to beat in the final.
By any standard, you want the first guy, who is the quite delightful Carlo Ancelotti, the most successful coach ever if you think the definition should include "Won championships in each of Europe's five best football-playing countries. Ancelotti somehow has managed to dance on the grim reaper's grave by guiding Real past the more imperious yet less reliable Manchester City, and is now being hailed properly as a more avuncular version of Dusty Baker, only with five rings, or whatever the European equivalent is. He was won championships in Italy, Germany, France, England and Spain, He fixes everything he touches, more or less, and even gave Everton a dignity it has since forfeited. He looks like your favorite uncle forever.
And the guy he is trying to beat the in UCL Final in two weeks is Jurgen Klopp, whose teeth are as much his signature as Ancelotti's eyebrow. His Liverpool side is chasing that rarest of rare white elk, the quadruple (Premier League, FA Cup, League Cup and Champions League title) and is by any measure the most electrifying club in European football. They probably should win everything because they have the best team, and Klopp can be a delight when he's not baring his store-boughts to bite off a piece of your ass to let you know you have displeased him.
But even though Real Madrid is run by the demonstrably contemptible Florentino Perez, the man who gave and wants to continue to give you the Super League even though you don't want it, he has aligned himself with Ancelotti, who is not only the winningest winner in the history of winning, but a guy who knows a proper cigar when he pulls on one. He is the guy who never looks panicked or frantic even though that is what people think coaches should look. He should get $1.75 every time someone else uses the word "imperturbable." You want a good thing to happen to him even though he's has lots of good things happen to him, and even though one of those good things is pleasing Perez. If nothing else, he broke the Premier League's hegemony by inducing a self-chokeout from Man City, and that will be sufficient.
Of course, you can also like Liverpool despite the fact that the Reds' winning would please the reptilian John Henry and his lizard consortium. Klopp has his canine charms, to be sure, but let's be honest—if you dressed him as Santa, children would flee and vow to serve Satan to avoid telling him their most desired gifts. Ancelotti, on the other hand, looks like he would give each kid who sat on his lap at the mall a C-note and whisper to them, "Don't tell your parents. They're on my naughty list because I don't judge children that way. Now get a lollipop and a bottle of my homemade grappa from my assistant, and we'll see you next year. And ho ho ho, you little burden."
No we shouldn't judge people based solely on their looks, and you should root for your favorite team based on better criteria than this. But Carlo Ancelotti is a guy you can play bocce with, while Klopp looks like he would convince you to paint his shed for your own good. I know who I'd rather waste an afternoon with, and I know who would bring the liquor. He might even see if he can get his eyebrow airborne after a couple of pops.