MADRID (AP) – Real Madrid fired coach Carlo Ancelotti on Monday as the Spanish club again showed it won't tolerate a season without a major trophy.
Ancelotti was let go despite being popular among both players and fans and having led Madrid to its 10th European Cup title just a year ago. This season the team finished second in the Spanish league — two points behind archrival Barcelona — lost in the Champions League semifinals to Juventus and exited the Copa del Rey against crosstown rival Atletico Madrid.
While the team did win the Club World Cup, that did little to appease Madrid's notoriously impatient directors.
Club president Florentino Perez announced the firing after a board meeting, and said Ancelotti's successor would be announced next week.
Perez said it had been a "very difficult decision" because the Italian had in two years earned his personal affection — as well as that of the board and the fans — and "now forms part of our history because with him we won our 10th cup."
Shortly after Perez's announcement Ancelotti posted a comment on his official Twitter account.
"I'll keep the memory of two fantastic years at the club, its fans and my players. Hala Madrid and nothing else," Ancelotti tweeted in Spanish.
The Italian coach is one of the most decorated in football, having won titles at Milan, Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain before taking the Madrid job two years ago. He now joins a long list of top-class managers to have been fired by Madrid, which has gone through 11 coaches since Vicente del Bosque's four-year reign ended in 2003.
Jose Mourinho is the longest-serving Madrid manager since then, lasting three seasons before leaving by mutual consent to return to Chelsea.
Ancelotti had received an ovation at the Bernabeu after Madrid beat Getafe 7-3 in the team's final game of the season on Saturday. Cristiano Ronaldo had also shown his support for the Italian coach by posting a photograph of himself next to Ancelotti on his official Twitter account.
"Great coach and amazing person. Hope we work together next season," Ronaldo tweeted Saturday.
Nevertheless, Perez said it was time the club moved on and achieved "a new impetus that will enable us to win new titles and achieve our maximum competitive level in a new phase."
Perez said it would be "a very good thing if the new coach could speak Spanish" but declined to make any comment on who might be in contention for the job. Napoli's Rafa Benitez, a former youth coach at Madrid, is widely reported to be among the candidates.
Ancelotti completed two years of the three-year contract he signed with Madrid in June 2013. Perez thanked him for his time at Madrid and said the decision to replace him was taken after the season had ended.
Perez declined to comment on exactly why the board decided to replace the coach, saying simply that "after two years, Madrid's need to win requires us to give the club a new impulse forward."