Real Madrid's Carlo Ancelotti is the only manager to win four European Cups and all five major league titles, yet he's not held as highly as Fergie and Pep Guardiola... so, why does the ex-Milan, Bayern, PSG and Chelsea boss still have critics?

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It's staggering now, but back in February there were reports in Spain that Real Madrid president Florentino Perez was toying with the idea of sacking Carlo Ancelotti.

A stunning solo goal from Kylian Mbappe handed Real a 1-0 defeat in the first leg of their last-16 tie against Paris Saint-Germain and, according to Sport, Perez was dismayed the defensive set-up Ancelotti oversaw.

It got worse before it got better in the Champions League. Mbappe scored again in the return leg before Karim Benzema sprang into life, scoring a hat-trick in the second half as PSG wilted. 

Carlo Ancelotti won his fourth Champions League title when Real Madrid beat Liverpool 1-0

Carlo Ancelotti won his fourth Champions League title when Real Madrid beat Liverpool 1-0

Carlo Ancelotti won his fourth Champions League title when Real Madrid beat Liverpool 1-0

There were reports earlier this year that Real president Florentino Perez (pictured with Ancelotti) wanted to sack him as manager after they were defeated by PSG

There were reports earlier this year that Real president Florentino Perez (pictured with Ancelotti) wanted to sack him as manager after they were defeated by PSG 

Now, after a LaLiga and Champions League double, Ancelotti's stock has never been higher

Now, after a LaLiga and Champions League double, Ancelotti's stock has never been higher

TOP CL WINNING MANAGERS

4 - Carlo Ancelotti

3 - Bob Paisley, Zinedine Zidane

2 - Sir Alex Ferguson, Pep Guardiola, Jose Mourinho, Brian Clough and 13 others 

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It would be the first result in Europe's elite club competition this season that just gave that feeling that Real's name is on the trophy. Storming comebacks against Chelsea and Manchester City would follow before victory against Liverpool.

Of course, any team needs luck on their side to win the Champions League but if you've also got Ancelotti in your corner, the chances are good that you'll win Europe's major tournament.

Saturday's triumph also took Ancelotti to a tally of four Champions League titles to his name, above Real hero Zinedine Zidane and Liverpool legend Bob Paisley. It was his second with Real after lifting two with AC Milan.

How glad Perez must be that he didn't swing the axe back in February.

'Ancelotti’s best quality is his temperament and I saw it for seven years,' Paul Clement, Ancelotti's No 2 in his first spell at Madrid, told talkSPORT.

'It suits the big clubs because they don’t need anymore pressure. It’s his strength, it's a special part of his character.'

On top of the four Champions League titles, this year's LaLiga triumph with Real marked Ancelotti's fifth league triumph of his career and remarkably, he is the only coach to win the league in all of Europe's five major divisions. Titles with Milan, Chelsea, PSG and Bayern Munich preceded this year's with Real.

Real set up defensively in Saturday's final, soaking up pressure from Liverpool and backing themselves to nick a goal when a chance fell their way at the Stade de France, which is precisely what happened.

'Looking back, people said PSG were unlucky, Chelsea were unlucky, Manchester City were unlucky,' Ancelotti told reporters. 'This was practically the only game where people thought we were more or less on the same level.

'I think it helped that Liverpool were easier to decipher than the others, because they have a very clear identity and we could prepare the way that we did. We knew what strategy to take - don’t give them space behind the defence to run into.

Ancelotti has won twice as many Champions Leagues as Pep Guardiola but the Manchester City manager is held in higher regard than the Italian

Ancelotti has won twice as many Champions Leagues as Pep Guardiola but the Manchester City manager is held in higher regard than the Italian

Sir Alex Ferguson is also widely considered as a more esteemed coach than Ancelotti is

Sir Alex Ferguson is also widely considered as a more esteemed coach than Ancelotti is 

Ancelotti also won his first LaLiga title this season in his second spell at Real Madrid

Ancelotti also won his first LaLiga title this season in his second spell at Real Madrid

And yet in the pantheon of all-time great managers, Ancelotti is seldom mentioned in the same breath as the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson and Pep Guardiola, even though he's won as many Champions Leagues individually as those two combined. Perhaps even Jurgen Klopp has a higher standing on the continent.

Ferguson was a relentless winner, even if United's European record is marginally unflattering for a 27-year reign. He lifted the league 13 times, won an incredible treble in 1999 and oversaw the development of an array of world class players from Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, Roy Keane and David Beckham.

Guardiola, of course, has revolutionised how everyone interprets football with the style of play he first, and most successfully, introduced at Barcelona. 

But then there is Ancelotti who, over the course of a 20-year coaching career, is far more than a great survivor. He defeated Ferguson's United on the way to Champions League victory in 2007 and overcame Guardiola's City this season in the same semi-final stage.

At PSG, Ancelotti won Ligue 1 in 2013 and in Germany with Bayern Munich, he lifted the Bundesliga in 2017. He then had two trophyless spells with Napoli and Everton, although he did lead the Toffees to their first win at Anfield against fierce rivals Liverpool in February 2021.

The Italian won two Champions Leagues with AC Milan back in 2003 and 2007

The Italian won two Champions Leagues with AC Milan back in 2003 and 2007 

Ancelotti won the Premier League with Chelsea back in 2010

In 2013, Ancelotti became a French league champions in his time as PSG boss

He has won the title in all the big five leagues, including with Chelsea (left) and PSG (right)

It will be fascinating to see where Real go from here. They very publicly missed out on signing Mbappe this summer, who surprisingly U-turned and signed a new three-year deal to remain at PSG. Erling Haaland, another target, has joined City from Borussia Dortmund.

But Real will recruit from a position of supreme strength with two major trophies in the bag. 

He has another two years remaining on his deal and so long as Perez stays patient - and this season could well have taught him how patience is a virtue - then it's highly likely Ancelotti lands more silverware to strengthen his legacy alongside the all-time greats of the game before too long. 

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