LONDON: The fat lady may be clearing her throat at Euro 2016 but the three tenors of the coaching world Carlo Ancelotti, Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho are due for the first rehearsals with their new club sides.
All three are renowned not only for their coaching ability — they have all won multiple Champions Leagues — but also their vastly different characters.
For Manchester City’s Guardiola and Manchester United’s Mourinho it sometimes borders on the cult of personality.
Ancelotti will not have to put up with Mourinho’s penchant for barbed comments as he has replaced Guardiola in the Bayern Munich hotseat.
One remark that Mourinho will unable to drag back out is labelling Claudio Ranieri a “loser” — the Italian silenced that one by guiding Leicester City to a shock Premier League title last term.
However, the football world can expect sparks to fly between Mourinho and Guardiola, especially now they are both in the same city.
A bitter rivalry between the two already exists from their time in Spain when Mourinho’s Madrid ended Guardiola’s glorious reign at Barcelona by winning La Liga in 2012.
Many will hope the Mourinho who pitches up at United will not be the highly strung out-of-sorts figure who left Chelsea under a cloud last term.
Usually Mourinho’s early days at a club are more civil and respectful, even if that often turns out to be a false dawn.
The 53-year-old Mourinho shrugs off the criticism of his combative nature designed to get under the skin of his rivals on the touchline.
Unsurprisingly, one of the Portuguese’s greatest admirers is Alex Ferguson, no stranger himself to the mind games of Premier League management.
“I look at Jose and I see myself reflected in many of the things he does,” said Ferguson.
“We’re only human. We can’t hide our emotions. They’re always there, they’re part of who we are, of our character.”
While Mourinho lets his emotions bubble to the surface, 45-year-old Guardiola seems self-contained and almost cold in his press conferences, only once letting the mask slip when Mourinho had provoked him one too many times.
This coldness appears to be borne out by the man who replaced him at Barcelona and his former assistant Tito Vilanova’s testament about when he was undergoing treatment for cancer in New York, where Guardiola had gone on sabbatical.
“He visited me once in New York when I’d just arrived, but during my recovery from the operation… I was there for two months and I didn’t see him,” Vilanova said in July 2013, nine months before he died.
Respect and esteem
Ancelotti engenders respect and popularity wherever he has gone on a European tour of the continent’s biggest clubs taking in AC Milan, Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid.
At Madrid the 57-year-old succeeded Mourinho and, much to the chagrin of the latter, coached them to their long-awaited 10th European Cup trophy. A feat Mourinho was hired to achieve, but failed to deliver in his three years in the Spanish capital.
Mourinho’s spell at Real turned sour with the players — he dropped iconic goalkeeper Iker Casillas — and even when Real’s form dipped in Ancelotti’s second season in Madrid a star-studded squad made clear their preference for the Italian.
“I think we are a better team now than under Mourinho in all aspects of the game. I think this is clear to see for all — for both fans and journalists,” said Real defender Sergio Ramos.
“I don’t like this injustice, where one coach gets all the credit, whereas the other doesn’t get recognition.
“I go by what I have experienced, not by what I have been told. It is enough to look at what he has won here and how long it took.”
Ancelotti, like Guardiola a Champions League winner as a player and as a coach, has become phlegmatic about the insecurities of the job.
“My ass is earthquake-proof,” he told The Financial Times in 2014, summing up how his fear of the sack has diminished over the years.