When Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford was asked about Carlo Ancelotti ahead of Saturday night’s Champions League final, it was significant he namechecked the manager’s son.
‘Carlo had a very good staff around him. His son Davide and a really good team, ‘said the England goalkeeper who played under Ancelotti and Ancelotti Jr for 18 months before they decamped Goodison Park for Real Madrid last summer.
Nepotism has never been an accusation as far as 32-year-old Davide who has already shown he’s a great operator in his own right besides being the offspring of one of the world’s great managers.
Carlo Ancelotti (left) and his son Davide will be hope to celebrate European glory on Saturday
Real Madrid boss Carlo and his assistant Davide are plotting to win the Champions League final
As a source at Goodison put it: ‘Carlo is a wily old fox. He wasn’t going to throw his son at the players unless he really knew he could do the job. ‘
It is now Real Madrid reaping the benefits. They have just won LaLiga and victory over Liverpool this weekend will make Ancelotti Sr the first manager ever to win four European Cups.
Instead of exploiting the family name, there is a strong case that Davide is helping his sixty-something father stay relevant and successful in the modern game, introducing the elements of sports science and data analysis you need at the elite level.
One day Davide is destined to be in the hotseat himself but for now, working alongside Don Carlo is a huge plus on his CV
‘I want to be a manager one day and he is the best example I can have,’ he says. ‘I am really lucky to be his son, it is the best thing in the world if you want to be a manager.’
Davide has aspirations of being a boss like his dad one day and is gaining experience at Real
Davide had a brief taste of it in April when his Dad got Covid leaving him in charge of a LaLiga game away to Celta Vigo. Real won 2-1 with a brace of goals from Karim Benzema.
Football was in Davide’s genes from the very start. He was born in July 1989, just a couple of months after his Dad had won the European Cup as a player, part of a great AC Milan team with Ruud Gullit, Marco van Basten and Franco Baresi.
Davide did not succeed as a footballer despite being on the books of Milan but studied sports science and first worked with his father as a fitness coach with PSG nearly a decade ago. They’ve been inseparable ever since with Davide being promoted to assistant manager at Napoli, Everton and now Real Madrid.
He’s a modern coach, very conversant with the information and technology, but also has the Ancelotti human touch. At Real as a young fitness coach, it was observed how well he got on personally with big beasts like Sergio Ramos and Cristiano Ronaldo. He had their respect.
Fluent in five languages - Italian, English, German, French and Spanish – is also an indicator of his natural intelligence and communication skills, also possessing the balanced demeanor of his father.
The 32-year-old took charge of Real in April, when Carlo had Covid, and won 2-1 at Celta Vigo
‘My father is calm but it is inside that he is burning. I am similar, ‘he reflects.
At Everton, he came of age, for the first time the Ancelottis had a team not overburdened with superstars or expected to challenge for the big trophies. The difficulties imposed by Covid also broadened his experience.
He was happy to challenge his father on decisions while accepting once the final verdict had been taken, he was 100 per cent supportive.
‘There are games where I do not agree but he has this talent to be tactically simple but very effective,’ says Davide. ‘And his style is to give people responsibility.’
That includes to his own flesh and blood. At Everton, Davide would devise training sessions, 75 minutes of high intensity and no longer in case concentration of the player wavered.
The father and son manager-assistant manager working relationship began at Napoli
‘Football is a high intensity sport with pauses, that’s what it is in physical terms,’ he explains. ‘I like to do tough sessions but not for two hours, the focus wavers.’
He would hold weekly meetings with a department of analysts, leading Everton to have one of the best set piece records in the Premier League.
Off the pitch, they embraced life in the north-west. Carlo would be seen cycling along the beaches of Crosby, Davide was a popular figure shopping in the local Waitrose.
The opportunity to return to Madrid was too strong for Ancelotti and although Davide was the preferred replacement among some Evertonians, Farhad Moshiri considered it too much of a gamble and went for the more experienced Rafa Benitez instead.
At the Bernabeu, Davide’s role has become even more influential, to the point where a management job of his own might not be too far away.
It then moved on to Everton where Davide was wanted by some fans to replace Carlo as boss
It is Davide who often gives a brief speech to the Madrid players before the games. World stars like Benzema are happy if he takes them aside to make tactical points. There is no feeling he’s only there because of the surname.
He is the main voice in training, allowing Carlo to be less hands-on and able to oversee everything before making the big calls when necessary or putting an arm around certain players at the right time.
The sports science graduate has built his career patiently and properly. He took charge of one game at Napoli when Carlo was banned, another this season at Madrid.
It was a disappointment to Everton staff members that Covid restrictions prevented them getting to know Davide as well as they wanted, but the players certainly appreciated his input.
Just ask Jordan Pickford, a Euro 2020 finalist. ‘Having Carlo Ancelotti here was a big learning curve for all of us, and Davide was part of that.’
The duo will be hoping to be celebrating as a family at full-time when they take on Liverpool