Tuesday 26 May 2015 12:45, UK
Real Madrid have terminated the contract of manager Carlo Ancelotti after two seasons in charge.
Club president Florentino Perez announced the decision in a press conference on Monday as the popular Italian paid the price for a trophyless season at the Santiago Bernabeu.
"I would like to inform you that the board has taken the decision to relieve Carlo Ancelotti of his post as Real Madrid coach," Perez said.
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"It was a very difficult decision to make; the demands at this club are the utmost because Madrid always wants to win silverware.
"The affection that the players and the fans have for Carlo is the same as the affection I myself have for him.
"What did Ancelotti do wrong? I don't know. The demands here at Real Madrid are very high."
Napoli's Spanish boss Rafael Benitez is odds-on favourite (1/3) to take over from Ancelotti and Perez confirmed the club hope to announce his successor next week.
Ancelotti won the Champions League, Copa del Rey, UEFA Super Cup in his first season in charge at the Bernabeu and followed up with FIFA’s Club World Cup in December.
However, Real finished two points behind La Liga champions Barcelona while they were eliminated by Juventus in the Champions League semi-finals.
Despite Real’s struggles, Ancelotti retained the support of the club’s leading players including Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo.
"Great coach and amazing person. Hope we work together next season," Ronaldo posted on his official Twitter account after bagging his eighth hat-trick of the season in Saturday’s 7-3 thrashing of Getafe alongside a photo of Ancelotti and himself.
Former Chelsea manager Ancelotti had previously stated that if he was relieved of his duties by Real he would undergo surgery on a back problem and take a break from the game despite offers from some of Europe’s leading clubs.
“I can assure you that I have not lacked opportunities, from Italy, England and Germany," Ancelotti, 55, told Il Giornale. "And I will not lack [offers] between now and next year.
"But I said it in the press conference and I repeat: I will stop for a year, also because I have a very serious reason for stopping.
"I have to have an operation because of my cervical stenosis. For some time, it has been affecting my hands and if I lose any more time, it could pass into legs, so I have an appointment for surgery.
"And, frankly, I do not know how long I have to be physically stopped, in terms of the post-operative phase and the subsequent rehabilitation.”
Once news of his sacking was confirmed Ancelotti took to Twitter to thank everyone associated with the club.
"I'd like to keep in mind this two fantastic years at Real Madrid. Thanks to the club, the supporters and my players," he said.