Real heavyweight Ronaldo backs coach Ancelotti

MADRID (Reuters) - Real Madrid top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo has signalled strong support for coach Carlo Ancelotti and sent a clear message to club president Florentino Perez that he does not want the Italian to be sacked. Perez is widely expected to make Ancelotti the scapegoat after Real ended the season without winning a major trophy but the intervention of dressing-room heavyweight Ronaldo may make him think twice. Ronaldo netted a hat-trick in Real's final game of the campaign on Saturday, a 7-3 drubbing of city rivals Getafe at the Bernabeu, taking his tally at the top of the La Liga scoring chart to 48 goals. It was his best single-season haul in Spain's top flight since he joined from Manchester United in 2009 and two short of the record of 50 set in 2011-12 by Barcelona forward Lionel Messi, who scored 43 this term. After the match, Portugal captain Ronaldo posted a message on his Twitter feed with a photograph of himself and Ancelotti. "Great coach and amazing person," Ronaldo wrote. "Hope we work together next season." Ancelotti, who led Real to a record-extending 10th European title and a King's Cup triumph in his debut year in Spain in 2013-14, has made it clear he wants to carry on but said on Saturday if Real do let him go he would take a year out. His contract runs until the end of next season and he said he expected to meet with club officials early next week to discuss his future. Media reports in Italy have suggested the 55-year-old could return to former club AC Milan, with whom he won the European Cup as both a player and coach. Napoli's Spanish coach Rafa Benitez is the frontrunner to replace Ancelotti at Real, where he had a stint as a youth trainer, according to local media. Real's Colombia midfielder James Rodriguez also backed Ancelotti after Saturday's game. "He arrived two years ago and he knows the team, he knows how we are and how we go about things," he told Spanish television. "But it's not my decision and it's not my place to talk about it."