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5 managers crowned champions at first attempt this season

May 27, 2014 07:55 IST

5 managers crowned champions at first attempt this season

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Antonio Conte completed a hat-trick.

Frank de Boer did a quadruple.

And Diego Simeoni not only ended an 18-year-old wait, but also bolstered his reputation.

However, there were some coaches who made an impression in their very first attempt.

With the club football season over, and the World Cup only a couple of weeks away, rediff.com takes stock of how some of the top coaches in European football performed in their first season in charge.

In the first of a two-part series, we focus on those who made an impact.

Carlo Ancelotti (Real Madrid)

It's Carletto's Way at the Santiago Bernebeu.

Entrusted with the tough responsibility of taking over from the redoubtable Jose Mourinho, the Italian achieved something his Portuguese predecessor failed to.

Ancelotti helped Real Madrid achieved that long-cherished dream, La Decima, the elusive 10th title in Europe's top competition.

The 54-year-old also led his side to the Copa del Rey title, at the expense of arch-rivals Barcelona.

The league was somewhere sacrificed along the way but, nonetheless, it was a brilliant first season for the Italian.

Most importantly, Ancelotti was able to manage the big egos in an expensively assembled squad. That is something even Mourinho failed at.

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Image: Real Madrid's coach Carlo Ancelotti poses with the Champions League trophy
Photographs: Paul Hanna/Reuters

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Pep won four titles in his first year in Munich

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Pep Guardiola (Bayern Munich)

This was a very difficult year for me, my first in Germany; so four titles is good.'

An honest admission by Pep Guardiola after Bayern Munich beat arch-rivals Borussia Dortmund to win the DFB Pokal (German Cup).

Two of those four titles - the Super Cup and the Club World Cup - were expected ones and came in a canter.

However, Guardiola's achievement came in the fact that Bayern won the Bundesliga with almost two months -- read seven games -- to spare, a record.

That did ensure some complacency as the Bavarian team's results in the final league games indicated.

By the end of the season there were question marks about Guardiola's emphasis on possession football (tiki taka). The fact that Bayern controlled possession for more than 75 per cent in each of the two legs of their Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid, and yet lost 0-5 on aggregate, made it clear that what worked for Barcelona may not for Bayern. 

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Image: Bayern Munich's coach Pep Guardiola holds the German Cup trophy
Photographs: Michaela Rehle/Reuters

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Pellegrini exceeded all expectations

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Manuel Pellegrini (Manchester City)

When he replaced Roberto Mancini at Eastland at the start of the season, there wasn't much hope.

Rightly so.

Manuel Pellegrini's last title, of any kind, came more than a decade back. The Chilean had done quite well with Villareal, Real Madrid and Malaga but had no trophies to show for the impact he made.

His stint with Manchester City started on a good note, but progressed in fits and starts. While the expensively assembled squad went undefeated at their home ground, their away form was erratic. So was the condition of his key players.

While top-scorer Sergio Aguero battled with injuries throughout, Alvaro Negredo fizzled away after a good start, and Stevan Jovetic, who cost quite a lot, hardly featured this season.

Despite all the adversities, Pellegrini led City to the Capital One Cup in February. The Eastland club also remained in the fray in the Premier League throughout, without being favourites.

However, they were smart enough to take advantage of slip-ups of rivals Liverpool and Chelsea and seal a second title in three seasons.

Pellegrini exceeded expectations in his first season!

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Image: Manchester City's manager Manuel Pellegrini looks at the English Premier League trophy
Photographs: Phil Noble/Reuters

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Benitez found the right mix in Naples

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Rafa Benitez (Napoli)

Meticulous, controversial and successful.

These are perhaps the best words to describe Rafa Benitez. In a career, spanning more than a decade, the Spaniard has won a host of trophies and been involved in lots of controversies.

So much so that he had to leave Chelsea after just six months in charge, despite helping the club win the Europa League.

Having replaced Walter Mazzarri in Naples, Benitez witnessed the club's top striker (Edinson Cavani) leave for Paris Saint-Germain, something that left him with a handsome budget.

The 54-year-old used the money to acquire the Real Madrid trio of Gonzalo Higuain, Raul Albiol and Jose Callejon while also make value added acquisitions, like Dries Mertens and Pepe Reina.

The new-look Napoli outfit won the Coppa Italia and finished third in the Serie A, thereby qualifying for the Champions League again.

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Image: Napoli's coach Rafa Benitez holds the Italian Cup trophy
Photographs: Giampiero Sposito/Reuters

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Laurent Blanc delivered the league and the League Cup

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Laurent Blanc (Paris Saint-Germain) 

A questionable appointment!

When Laurent Blanc was named as a replacement for Carlo Ancelotti at Paris Saint-German (PSG), few believed in his ability.

The owners though were reasonable. The minimum target was to defend the league (Ligue 1) title and match the club's quarter-final showing in the Champions League.

Besides, there was the added challenge of ensuring compatibility between star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic and new acquisition Edinson Cavani.

Blanc achieved all the targets and also won the Coupe de la Ligue (The French League Cup) in the bargain.


Image: Paris St Germain's coach Laurent Blanc looks on while he celebrates defeating Olympique Lyon in the French League Cup final
Photographs: Benoit Tessier /Reuters

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