Everton caretaker boss Duncan Ferguson said he does not know how close Carlo Ancelotti is to be being appointed permanent manager at Goodison Park.
Ancelotti, 60, is reportedly on the verge of becoming Marco Silva’s successor at Everton, which means tomorrow’s visit of Arsenal could be Ferguson’s last in charge.
And speaking at his pre-match press conference on Friday, while Ferguson said he knew no more than anyone else about the negotiations, he said he relished the idea of working under as successful a manager as Ancelotti, and that the rumours have not proved a distraction for his squad:
“[I’ve heard] Just the same rumours everyone else has heard; that’s it, really. I’ve got no more comment to make; we’ll just have to wait and see. I’ve not spoken to anyone.
“It would be fantastic to work under top managers. I’ve worked under a few in the past, so I’d like to continue my education if possible.
“I’ve not seen any distractions. The players have been focused, they’ll be focused for tomorrow. I’ve not seen any problems in the camp at all, really. We just want to go out and win football matches, and that’s what we’re trying to do.”
The clash with Arsenal, who have appointed former Everton midfielder Mikel Arteta as their new manager, will be Ferguson’s fourth as interim manager. In that time, he has taken four points off Chelsea and Manchester United, and forced Leicester City to a penalty shoot-out victory in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday.
And Ferguson added that if tomorrow is to be his final game before Ancelotti’s arrival, then he will look back on the job he and the players have done with great pride, and that he now feels more confident in his own ability to manage than previously:
“I’ve loved it. Obviously, the adrenaline’s through the roof. Of course, the players have responded, which is the most pleasing thing. Obviously, it’s only been a few games, but it gives you confidence [in managerial ability].
“I’m happy with the job I’ve done but I’m more happy with the way the players have responded. They’ve been unbelievable; incredible, really.
“I can make a decision [as a manager]; I’m happy to do that. I won’t shirk that responsibility. That’s one of the things I’m pleased about.”
While Ferguson said he has not been surprised to see himself linked with the job on a permanent basis, he stressed that, despite Everton’s mini-revival under him, he is not desperate to take up the role yet.
But he admitted he still harbours ambitions of becoming permanent Everton boss eventually, and does not feel he necessarily has to leave the club to prove himself as a first team manager first:
“I think it’s inevitable [he’ll be linked to the job] because you’ve taken a few games. People obviously see your ability as a coach. It’s not something I’m particularly pushing for at the moment; it could be two or three years down the line for me, really. It’s been a great education for myself.
“There’s no real time frame but obviously, the more confident you get, the more coaching you do, you want to move on in your career. We’ve all got ambitions. I’m still young enough, and maybe it’ll happen down the line.
“I’m not looking to move away. I just want Everton to be successful. I want the new manager to come in and do a fantastic job, as I’m sure he will. If I can be a part of that, brilliant. But I love the club, and I love my job. If I go back to being a coach, that’s fine by me.”
When asked about the most pleasing of the last fortnight from his perspective, Ferguson said he feels the club have won some of the supporters back after a dreadful start to the season under Silva.
He feels it is important that whoever is appointed manager continues that and that a win tomorrow would be a perfect way to sign off, if indeed it is his final game as caretaker boss:
“I think in the fans’ reaction and the atmosphere in the ground, we’ve got a bit of our club back. We’ve brought it back to the fans, really. We’ve all been a part of it together. That’s been the big thing for me; we’ve all been together as a club.
“I think it is important [that the new manager harnesses that]. We’re a close-knit family and a community.
“It would mean everything, for me and the club [to win tomorrow]. We’re still in a perilous position at the bottom of the league, so we need to make sure we kick on. It’s a really tough match for us. I’m asking these players to go to the well again, and I’m sure they’ll respond.”