Carlo Ancelotti has said both the stature and ambition of Everton as a club was enough to convince him to become their new manager.
Ancelotti, whose glistening CV includes four league titles, each in different countries, and three Champions Leagues, was appointed Blues boss on Saturday and unveiled at a press conference on Monday morning.
When asked about why he decided to join Everton, and also what he made of Saturday’s 0-0 home draw with Arsenal, which he watched from the stands, he replied:
“The ambition of the club, the history that this club has, the tradition, the atmosphere among the supporters. It’s also the fact that we want to improve, we want to be a better team, we want to compete. These were the reasons why I decided to come here.
“All the people I met on Saturday were really kind. It was a really good day for me and after that I saw the game; I have my idea of this squad. Today, I start to work with a lot of commitment and I’m really excited.
“I want to start and want to try my best to help the team to be better and to help the club to be competitive and to bring happiness to the supporters, because there has been a lot of time that this club hasn’t won.
“This takes time. It will not be overnight, but we have to be passionate with a clear focus, and I’m sure we’re going to improve quickly.”
Ancelotti added that he is impressed by the quality and mixture of youth and experience among the squad he has inherited, but did not want to be drawn too deeply into discussions about possibilities during next month’s transfer window.
Though the Italian admitted he will have these conversations at some point with director of football Marcel Brands soon, he stressed that his primary focus currently is his first game in charge, at home to Burnley on Boxing Day:
“I think the squad is good; there is a good mix of experienced players where you can see a sense of belonging like Seamus Coleman, Leighton Baines, and young players. I am satisfied with the squad.
“Of course, we can improve, but the first thing is we have a lot of really important games. We have to be focused there. and after that we can talk with Marcel about how we can improve this team. But the first idea now for me is we have only three days to prepare for the next game against Burnley. We have to be focused there.”
“[laughs] Don’t ask me [about business in January]! As I said, we have these three games, and every one of us, the board, the director of football, is focused to put the best team on the pitch and to try to win games. The most important thing now is the result and after that, we can talk about everything else.”
In terms of promises Ancelotti has been made, in particular from majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri, he reiterated that the way in which he was sold the club’s vision was enough to persuade him to take the job.
On the day Everton’s final stadium designs were revealed ahead of submitting a planning application, Ancelotti said this reflects the scale of the club’s ambition and a project which hugely excites him:
“What I know from talking with the press and with Farhad is that the club wants to be competitive in the Premier League. For me, this is enough. After that, together, we have to do the right things to improve.
“The club wants to build a new stadium and I know that today is a really important day; this means the ambition is really high and I’m excited to be in this project.”
Everton have been linked with a move for Zlatan Ibrahimović, 38, who played under Ancelotti at PSG and who announced last month he is leaving LA Galaxy.
And though Ancelotti did not quash these rumours altogether, he was coy on the idea of the Swedish striker following him to Goodison Park, and added he is looking forward to working with fellow forward Moise Kean:
“Zlatan Ibrahimović is a good friend of mine; he was my player, but fortunately i have trained a lot of fantastic players. But i think Ibrahimović will finish his period in the United States and then I don’t know what his ideas are. Maybe I’m going to call him to see if he wants to come to Liverpool - but not to play!”
“Moise Kean did really well last year. We were involved in trying to buy him when I was at Napoli. I think he’s a really good player with a lot of talent. He showed fantastic talent last year even if he didn’t play a lot, but we have to consider that he’s 19 years old and every player that changes country and team needs adaptation.
“We have to wait, we have to work on him, every one of us, to improve his quality, to be a better professional. But he has top quality.”
In terms of this season, Ancelotti said one of his first aims is to improve the style of football, as well as steering Everton, 15th in the table, to at least the top half of the Premier League.
The Blues were unbeaten in normal time in all four of Duncan Ferguson’s games as caretaker boss following Marco Silva’s sacking, and Ancelotti said he wants to harness the fighting spirit shown in that time going forward.
Long-term, Ancelotti is looking towards the Champions League and silverware, and though he knows this will be far from easy, he believes this must be Everton’s ambition:
“[Immediate aim is] to improve our position in the table, to try to be closer to the top compared to the bottom. That’s it. Our goal is to try to play better football because these players have the quality to play better.
“I saw the last four games; I think Duncan did a fantastic job because the team showed a fantastic spirit. I really enjoyed it. I also saw how the supporters pushed the team forward and I think this is what I want to see. I would like to play a good style of football; I don’t know if I’m able to, but I will try.”
“[Champions League and trophies] is the long-term objective. Of course, the Premier League is a really competitive league. Everyone knows it; there are a lot of fantastic teams here. But the goal of the club has to be this. We want to be ambitious, so this is the goal, and to be competitive in Europe, too.”
But, as well as including Everton among England’s biggest clubs, he also refuted the idea he can only manage the best teams, pointing to his time in the Italian second tier with Reggiana, and also in Serie A with Parma in the 1990s:
“Everton are one of the biggest clubs in England. It’s true that I’ve managed top teams, but for example, when I was at Paris Saint-Germain, the project was really good there and that attracted me. I think here is the same.
“It’s not true that I’ve only managed top teams. In Italy, I managed in the second division at the beginning, and after that, I managed Parma that was not a top team. I like a team that has ambition and a clear idea of how to reach success.
“Looking here, for example, i went to the training ground yesterday - it is a fantastic training ground. The fact that the club wants to build a new stadium means they have a clear idea of how to improve and have success. It takes time; I don’t know how long, of course.”
After the growing issue of racism in football reared its ugly head in Chelsea’s 2-0 win at Tottenham Hotspur yesterday, Ancelotti was also asked for his thoughts in the subject, particularly having managed extensively in Italy, where the issue is rife:
“It is a problem everywhere.I had a big fight last year in Italy when [Kalidou] Koulibaly was abused in a stadium in Milan. You have to be strong. Football cannot allow people to abuse and be racist. All the federations around the world have to be strong.”
Ancelotti that Ferguson will be promoted to an assistant under him, and believes his knowledge of the club and tactical nous will be invaluable to him.
The Italian finished by reaffirming just how thrilled he is to be Everton manager, and how desperate he is to realise his dreams for the club:
“I met Duncan just after the game. He will be on my staff as an assistant. It’s really important as Duncan knows the players and the atmosphere. It will be really helpful for me.”
“I love to train and I love to manage. I am really passionate about my job. I now work for Everton, a fantastic club and my dream is to get the club to the top positions in the table.
“Nothing is impossible in football.”