Ancelotti: I am not too soft with Madrid players

The coach insists he has a good relationship with his players but maintains he can be harsh with them when he needs to be

Carlo Ancelotti has insisted that he is not too soft with the Real Madrid players.

The world and European champions have lost their place at the top of La Liga and merely scraped through to the quarter-final of the Champions League at the expense of Schalke.

The drop in form has seen Ancelotti come under scrutiny, with speculation surrounding his future, but the coach maintains things are going well with the team and that he is strong enough to lead them forward.

“The relationship with the players is what’s most important, it matters a lot more than the one with the president,” he told Gazzetta dello Sport. “If there is no good feeling with the guys, you are a dead man.

“Someone calls it friendship, but I simply call it respect, although I like to laugh and joke with them. The intelligent people know when it’s time to get serious.

“Whoever says I am too soft angers me, because it is not true.”

The 55-year-old also spoke about Pepe, revealing that he had to convince the defender not to leave the Santiago Bernabeu after the centre-back felt he was hated too much in Spain.

“I didn’t use any kind of strategy. He asked to leave because in Spain they considered him bad and dirty. I told him that he was going to stay, that I counted on him.

“We were not disappointed. Like Cristiano Ronaldo, he never disappoints us.

“[Zinedine] Zidane was the player that entertained me the most in training, but Cristiano makes me have fun in matches, as he always scores.”

Ancelotti has recently spoken about his desire to end his career with the Italian national team and he reiterated his dream once more.

“I would like to manage Italy one day. But first I must overcome the desire to coach every day.

“Italy reach a World Cup final every 12 years and they win one every 24. So, everything’s ready for 2030.”

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