Carlo Ancelotti should always live in Liverpool. As he did so, he found that he loved the coast more than he had anticipated.
After moving to Merseyside in 2019, the veteran Italian trainer was regularly spotted by locals walking his three family dogs on Crosby Beach, a two-and-a-half mile stretch of sand dunes, stone-colored seawater and a promenade that overlooks Ireland.
“It’s a beautiful place,” said Ancelotti New York Times. “It’s close to the sea. There is a beautiful beach. A long beach. There are really nice bike rides, really nice walks. You can walk all the way to Formby on the coast path. There are the Gormley statues, 100 in number, on the beach. I really like it.’
For nearly fifteen years, since losing the 2005 Champions League final to AC Milan in Istanbul when Liverpool won on penalties from a 3-0 deficit at half-time, Ancelotti’s destiny has been to end up at Liverpool. On that night, at European football’s most notorious flagship event of all time, his destiny and that of the Reds became one, bound by football’s twisted metaphysics. Years later, Ancelotti spoke about the sheer power of the influence Liverpool and his people in Turkey had on him.
“It’s always been a club that excites me,” he told reporters in 2014. “The ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ they sing is incredible. Nobody sings an anthem like Liverpool fans. Sometimes I look for it on the internet and wear it for my friends. It’s something really unique, seriously.
“I remember when we played against them in Istanbul and we won 3-0 at the break. 45,000 Liverpool fans sang “You’ll Never Walk Alone” for 10 minutes. It was incredible and a shock for an Italian.”
The thrill and beauty of football – and the fact that it goes on endlessly and constantly – means that as many players and coaches as Ancelotti are caught up in shared stories with different places and people around the world that they met at the beginning of their careers never even dreamed of visiting them or spending their lives with them.
Ultimately, Ancelotti ended up with an L postcode, not because he coached Liverpool and eventually took the place at the Anfield dugout that has slowly seemed to draw him like a magnet over the years, but because he unexpectedly managed Everton instead. Rather than finally sharing a common future with Liverpool, Ancelotti instead defined the true nature of his relationship with the club as his main friendly enemy.
He had previously come relatively close to the Liverpool job in 2015 when Jurgen Klopp decided to end his sabbatical early to replace the sacked Brendan Rodgers. Had Klopp opted to end the projected year after leaving Borussia Dortmund, Ancelotti would have been second favorite and out of a job.
In 2014, during Ancelotti’s first spell at Real Madrid, his team Brendan Rodgers humiliated Liverpool by outplaying them in all departments in a sobering win at Anfield before Rodgers selected a reserve team for the subsequent Bernabeu defeat and pre-game defeat admitted had even started. These are two of the pivotal losses Liverpool have suffered since being bought by owners Fenway Sports Group in 2010, and played a significant role in the deterioration of Rodgers’ relationship with fans, his sacking and Klopp’s eventual trophy-laden tenure as Manager.
Since Klopp took over at Anfield he has struggled against an opponent as hard as Ancelotti. The Italian won two, separated one and lost one of four Champions League group stage games against the Reds with Napoli in 2018 and 2019.
Then Ancelotti managed Everton’s first Merseyside derby win at Anfield since 1999, quelling two decades of pain and anger from a group of fans whose views of Liverpool have increasingly become tunnel visions as their team hasn’t won a trophy in years and has snowed .
Ancelotti is targeting an unprecedented fourth European Cup final win when his newest Real Madrid side take on Liverpool in Paris on Saturday night, which would separate him from Los Blancos ahead of former Reds manager Bob Paisley and Zinedine Zidane. During his time at AC Milan, Chelsea, Real Madrid, Napoli and Everton, Ancelotti has played 16 times against Liverpool, including the two Champions League finals with Milan in 2005 and 2007. Of those 16 games, Liverpool have only won four.
Earlier this month, the Italian broke another record, becoming the first manager in football history to win a league title in the top divisions across Italy, England, France, Germany and Spain.
With his track record across the continent and borderline sensitive eyebrows, Ancelotti is one of the most ubiquitous men in contemporary football. He combines a world-class ability to coach elite footballers with an elegant demeanor and understated sarcasm, giving him an air of warmth and unalloyed professionalism.
That so many of the pivotal moments in Ancelotti’s career and Liverpool’s modern history have blended so gracefully is partly down to sheer luck, partly to the enduring sporting excellence of both and partly to the sheer spiritual power of football, which brings the same protagonists together again and again epoch-spanning again.
A new entry in the shared history of Liverpool Football Club and Carlo Ancelotti will be written under the smoky Parisian sunset on Saturday night. Regardless of who takes home the trophy, the glue that holds the two together only gets harder.
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