Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti believes his team’s New Year’s Day match at Manchester City will provide a great challenge that he and his players will relish.
Ancelotti won his first two games since becoming Blues boss on December 21 against Burnley and Newcastle, but is aware that, despite their troubles this season, the champions will still prove stern opposition for Everton.
Speaking at his pre-match press conference on New Year’s Eve, Ancelotti said:
“City will be a fantastic test for us to see where we are in the sense that they are a really strong team. But we have confidence to do our best and play a fantastic game.
This is a good moment for us; it is good to have this kind of test. We have to try to compete with the top teams in England and Europe.”
City won their final game of 2019, a 2-0 home win over Sheffield United on Sunday, but they enter the new year in third, 14 points behind leaders Liverpool, who have a game in hand over them, too.
And though Ancelotti acknowledged they haven’t hit the heights of the previous two seasons, he is still aware of the depth of quality at Pep Guardiola’s disposal, but encouraged his players to focus on their own game plan, rather than their opponents’ strengths:
“Maybe City aren’t at the same level as last year but they still remain a fantastic team with fantastic players and a fantastic manager. It will be really tough to compete with them, but we need to have the confidence to compete and to be focused on our football.
“We don’t have to look too much to the opponent because they are really strong so it’s better to be focused on our idea of football.”
Ancelotti added he is also looking forward to meeting Guardiola, the man he replaced as Bayern Munich manager in 2016, again on Wednesday, and had plenty of kind words for him and the job he has done as City boss:
“Pep is a fantastic manager. We’ve met some times, not a lot in games, but I have a really good relationship [with him] and a lot of respect for him. He is a genius; he’s always tried to do something special on the pitch.”